Scam of the day – October 23, 2017 – Social Security cost of living adjustment scam

Last Friday, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced a 2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security recipients beginning in January  of 2018, however, scammers are already taking advantage of this news  and making calls to unwary seniors in which the scammers purport to be representatives of the Social Security Administration.  They tell their intended victim  that in order to receive  the new cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), they must confirm personal information including their name, birth date and Social Security number.   The truth is that this information is not required for a person to receive a cost-of-living adjustment which is automatic and if the person does provide this personal information, the scammer will use it to make the person a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

You do not have to confirm information or apply for any cost-of-living adjustment.  It is automatically added to a Social Security recipient’s payment.  In addition, you should never give out personal information on the phone to someone you have not called unless you are absolutely sure that the call is legitimate and there is a legitimate need for that information.  Scammers can trick your Caller ID through a technique called spoofing into making it appear that the call is from the Social Security Administration or any other entity they wish.

Here is a link to the press release of the SSA describing the upcoming COLA.

https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/releases/#/print/10-2017-1

Scam of the day – September 21, 2017 – Flood insurance robocall scam

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), scammers continue to target the victims of recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma through robocalls in which people receiving the calls are being told that their flood insurance premiums are overdue and that they must pay the scammers immediately to avoid loss of insurance coverage.

TIPS

You can never be sure whenever you receive a phone call whether or not the person calling you is legitimate and even if your Caller ID indicates that the call is from a legitimate source, your Caller ID can be tricked through a technique called spoofing to make the call appear authentic when it is not.  In this instance, if you receive such a call and wish to confirm whether or not it is legitimate, the best course of action is to contact your insurance agent or your insurance company directly at telephone numbers that you know are legitimate.  If you have a flood insurance policy with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP Direct) you can reach them at 800-638-6620.

Scam of the day – April 26, 2017 – New survey indicates Americans lost 9.5 billion dollars to phone scams last year

A recent survey done by Harris Poll on behalf of Truecaller, a company that provides phone security services concludes that during the last twelve months approximately 22.1 million Americans were victims of various phone scams both on their landlines and smartphones with an average loss of $430 per victim which is a 56% increase from a similar survey done in 2015.

Phone scams come in a variety of forms including phony charity solicitations and fake IRS calls, but they all have one thing in common. They can easily steal your money if you are not careful.

The survey also showed who was being scammed and the results were interesting.  American men were almost twice as likely to become a victim of phone fraud as American women and millennial males were the most vulnerable group of all.

The survey also pointed out vulnerabilities of people on their smartphones where 72% of the fraudulent losses occurred.  In 2014, smartphones accounted for just 29% of fraudulent phone call losses.  Of course, with increased use of text messaging, fraudulent text messages open up a new venue for scammers.

TIPS

The first defense against phone scammers is skepticism.  You can never be sure when you receive a phone call or a text message as to who is really contacting you.  Even if you have Caller ID, scammers can use a technique called spoofing to make the call appear to be originating from a legitimate source.  Never provide personal information including credit card information to anyone who calls you or text messages you without confirming the legitimacy of the call or text message.  You also may wish to use services like nomorobo which screens robocalls or Truecaller which screens your phone calls and text messages.