When a government agency shows up on the caller ID, most people pay attention.
That's probably exactly what scammers are counting on when they "spoof" the number used to report fraud to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Spoofing is a way of electronically altering the way that an incoming phone call appears on your caller ID in order to convince you that it's a legitimate call.
Be wary. The government has been forced to issue warnings to the public about the problem because scammers use intimidation tactics to scare people into divulging their private identifying information.
A typical tactic includes using an automated message to warn beneficiaries that their benefits will be suspended unless they act quickly. They are then directed to call a number where a scammer, posing as a federal employee, extracts their personal identifying information under the premise that they will help stop their benefits from being frozen. Another popular scam involves getting people to pay for things that Social Security provides for free -- like a replacement Social Security card.
This is the fourth time this year that Social Security has needed to warn people of the scam -- indicating that more people than ever are falling victim. To guard yourself against such scams, keep the following in mind:
- Social Security will never notify you by phone that your disability benefits are being suspended for any reason. You would receive a letter with the reason for the suspension, along with your appeal rights.
- If you have a pending disability claim, you may be contacted by a disability examiner by phone. However, you will probably have already received a letter that gives you the examiner's contact information. If you have any doubts about who is on the phone, tell the other person that you will hang up and contact them by calling them at the number provided in your letter.
Scammers are heartless and they thrive by targeting people who already have disrupted lives -- so that makes anyone with a disability especially vulnerable. Warn your family and friends in order to put these types of scammers out of business.