Chris Stein, CFP®
Latest Fraud Advisory
Last week the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Social Security Administration issued a press release warning people of the latest fraud scheme going around that tries to dupe you into revealing your personal financial information. In this scheme an impersonator calls from the 323 area code, claims to be a SSA employee, and tells them they are entitled to an increase in their Social Security benefits. They go on to explain that to receive this increase they must verify some personal information, like their name, date of birth, Social Security number, parent’s names, etc. Once the impersonator gains this info they can go into your Social Security account and change the direct deposit information that will then direct your SS benefits to them! Obviously, not what someone wants to do…
In general, you should never provide this sort of information to someone who called you. If you initiated the call, and therefore know you are speaking to someone legitimate, then you should feel more comfortable confirming information like this as a security measure. However, anytime someone calls you, there is no real way to confirm they are who they say they are.
I recommend you kindly tell anyone calling who claims to be from a bank or SSA or 401k, or any other sensitive location, that you are not comfortable providing those details to anyone over the phone. Then hang up and call that entity back, but NOT AT ANY NUMBER THEY PROVIDED TO YOU. You must call back on a number you KNOW to be correct and valid. Use the number you find on your bank statements, or from the entity’s own website.
Do not trust the results of a web search that gives you a number. Go directly to the website of the company or agency and use their customer service contact number. If things were legitimate the caller will have no problem with you doing this and will completely understand your trepidation. A fraudster will try to convince you not to hang up and will continue to pressure you to give them information. If this starts to happen, HANG UP!!
This warning happens to come out due to a Social Security announcement, but this sort of thing is happening all the time with the rise in attempted identity theft. Be cautious, and do not provide personal information unless you have confidence you are actually dealing with someone who you can trust with this information. The OIG press release can be found here: https://oig.ssa.gov/newsroom/news-releases/july19-advisory.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download