In the digital age, phone scams are becoming increasingly more common. Especially around tax season, we find that scammers are working full throttle to steal your money! This is because most people are more likely to believe a scammer when they tell them there is something wrong with their “documents.”
As scam artists get smarter, it is important to stay informed on the types of scams out there to see them coming from a mile away.
Common Scams to Watch Out For
Scammers usually target unsuspecting victims who are not paying attention to the details of transactions. These 3 scams are becoming increasingly more common in the United States:
- Identity Theft: Scammers will call to represent a healthcare provider. They will claim that they are calling to confirm some personal information in order to continue your coverage. Once they have your personal information they will use it to steal your identity, open lines of credit in your name, and run up your credit.
- Fake Lottery Winnings: In this scam, criminals will call or mail you that you have just won a large prize in a lottery, sweepstakes, or other contest. The scammer will then require that you send a small payment in order to unlock the winnings. You will get a check to deposit, but it will bounce before making it to your bank account. At which point, it will be too late to take your small payment back.
- Investment Schemes: While this type of scheme comes in many forms, they all share the same trait of having the victim “invest” their money into an investment opportunity that promises to safeguard or grow their money.
The New Social Security Scam Targeting Los Angeles
The “Social Security” scam has seen a spike in phishing scams lately. According to the FTC, this scam has been growing exponentially since 2017. The scammers are smart and will target you when you are least expecting it!
This voicemail targetted a middle-aged woman living in Los Angeles in April 2019. The message says:
“We are contacting you regarding documents that are attached to your name and Social Security number and require your signature. We are calling to inform you that someone will be out within the next 24 to 48 hours to your place of employment and your residence. Your husband or supervisor must be present as a witness of the signature, and you must have two forms of ID. If you cannot be present you will be marked as a “Direct Refusal to Comply” which could result is a missed deadline of submission. If you have any questions or concerns or need to be informed of services, please press any key to be connected with a live representative or contact us by calling 302-907-8436.”
As you can see, the wording is not perfect. But there is a sensible amount of context that you could believe this voicemail is legitimate. Nearly everyone recently submitted their tax documents; they will presume these are the “documents” they are calling about. Another plausible thought may be that it regards your bid on a home since the real estate market is usually much more active right after tax season. The scammers know that right now they have the most likelihood of catching unsuspecting Los Angeles residents. So, beware!
Advice From Marcia L. Campbell
We urge you always to be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security Number (SSN) or bank account information to unknown individuals over the phone or internet. If you receive a call and aren’t expecting one, you must be extra careful. You can always get the caller’s information, hang up, and — if you do need more clarification — contact the official phone number of the business or agency that the caller claims to represent. Never reveal personal data to a stranger who called you.
If you have also been targeted by this scam, we would like to hear from you in the comments.