09 Sep Scam artists are out in full force: How you can stay protected
At Gulf Shore Home Watch & Concierge, our clients are not just our clients. They are our friends- and it is not unusual for us to chat briefly about recent goings on in our lives. One thing we have noticed, recently, is the growing number of people who say they have been getting scam calls.
For example, many of our clients have said they have received automated calls from “the Social Security Administration.” The voice on the pre-recorded call seems to be computer generated, and it tells the recipient that their social security number has been suspended for suspected fraudulent activity. From there, it says that to “reactivate” your social security number, you’ll need to press “1” to speak with an operator.
“I knew it was a scam immediately,” a client said, adding she wanted to have some fun with the caller. “I pressed 1 just to see what happened. When the operator picked up, he had a very thick foreign accent. I decided to mess with him a little bit and told him that I did not have a social security number. I lied and told him he was calling a pre-paid cell phone and that I was in the US visiting from overseas. I guess he was determined to get his hands on some money from me, because he started to get argumentative and asked, ‘how do you know you don’t have a social security number?’ I told him I was from, I think Norway, and said that as far as I knew, the US did not issue social security numbers to foreign citizens. That’s when he slammed the phone down in my ear.”
What to do if you think you are talking to a scammer
Remember- if someone calls you and claims to be from a government agency and they want you to provide them with personal information (such as your address, date of birth, prior addresses, social security number and/or driver’s license number), there’s a good chance they’re a scam artist. If you give out your information you run the risk of having your identity stolen- which means that a bad actor could potentially open lines of credit or take out loans in your name.
The best thing to do in this situation is to ask for the person’s name, extension number and employee ID number and tell them you will call back. If they try to give you their main office number, be wary. Instead, pull the organization’s main number off their website. If the caller is legitimate, you will be able to reach them when you call the main line.
Have you recently been contacted by scammers? If so, please tell us about it in the comments.