What the Tech? How to Avoid a New Phone Scam

Are you getting more scam calls lately? During the early days of the pandemic, many scam call centers were closed but they’re making up for that missed time now. Scam calls are up and one is making the rounds again.

The caller claims your Social Security Number was used to rent a car which was later found by police investigating a crime. The car they claim had blood and cocaine inside and you are now being considered a suspect in a serious crime.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received 8 or more of these calls. I generally let them go to voicemail to be deleted later. One afternoon though I wanted to see where the scammer was going with the “investigation” and what information they were after.

The caller had a very thick middle eastern accent. He said he’s an FBI agent and gave me his name and badge number. He then transferred me to his supervisor, another “agent” with another badge number.

He gave me my case number and asked several times to repeat it.

The caller then asked for my name, birthdate, and social security number. I made those up since that information is all a scammer needs to begin stealing your identity. After a few more minutes on the phone, he asked me to repeat my social security number, his name and badge number, and my case number. Since I made up those and didn’t write any of them down, he
called me a smart%*#(! and hung up the phone.

These scams are fairly common because they work and the victims are not always the elderly.

Twice in the past 2 weeks, I’ve spoken to people in their 20s who fell for the scam. One was so terrified she gave up all of her information. Another not only gave up their information but purchased over $2,000 in gift cards to send to the scammer.

Scammers often ask for gift card payments because they cannot be traced.

An FCC report reveals millennials are just as susceptible to fall victim to these scams as their parents and grandparents. The report states millennials are 25% more likely to report losing money to fraud than people 49 and over and much more likely to report a loss on certain types of fraud.

What should you do if you get one of these scam calls?

● Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. Scammers can spoof numbers that appear to come from Washington DC or even from official office numbers.
● Do not call back missed calls from unknown numbers
● If you do answer and hear a suspicious caller hang up
● Never give personal information over the phone or email
● Contact the FBI, FCC, and Social Security Administration if you’re contacted or give out the information
● Talk to your children about scams

The FBI says no government official will contact you by phone or email and ask for information. For more information on how to report spam or scam calls:

FCC 1-888-225-5322
Social Security Administration

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