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Robocall Threatening Social Security Benefits? Don't Take the Bait

The FTC has filed lawsuits against more than 600 companies and people behind illegal robocalls and violations of the Do Not Call list. (Pixabay)
The FTC has filed lawsuits against more than 600 companies and people behind illegal robocalls and violations of the Do Not Call list. (Pixabay)
June 6, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. - If you receive a telephone message saying your Social Security benefits are at risk, consumer advocates say don't be alarmed; it's likely the newest twist on robocall scams.

Heather Clary, director of communications for the Better Business Bureau serving Central and Eastern Kentucky, said the caller tells potential victims there is suspicious activity involving their Social Security account, and directs them to dial a different number and then, enter their Social Security number. Clary said it's just con artists trying to intimidate folks into divulging their personal information.

"They know that people can be easily frightened and possibly pressured to take a step that they will regret later on due to being frightened about losing various benefits," she said, "so that's why you really need to be careful about these calls coming in and don't always assume it's the real deal."

If you receive a call of this nature, or from anyone claiming to be from a government agency, she recommended calling the named agency directly to find out if there's a problem. When government entities need to contact a citizen, she said, they typically send a letter.

The Federal Trade Commission has reported a significant increase in robocalls, as web-based phone systems have made it easier for scammers to make illegal calls displaying fake caller ID information. Clary said it's easy to spot them because they have a recorded message and promise a reward or threaten some sort of legal action. Again, she said, don't buy it.

"An agency is not going to call and threaten to arrest you; that just isn't how it works," she said. "If someone's going to arrest you for a legitimate reason, they're just going to show up. People talk about lawsuits being served, warrants being served, words like that being used on a message on the phone. You should be very suspicious."

Clary said it doesn't take divulging much information for someone to become a victim of fraud or identity theft.

"They can use that to open lines of credit and use it to impersonate someone else, to get jobs," she said. "These numbers are sold and bought on the black market out there, and all they need is a Social Security number and a date of birth to open many lines of credit."

The FTC has filed lawsuits against more than 600 companies and people behind billions of illegal robocalls and violations of the Do Not Call list.

Information on scams is online at bbb.org/scamtracker.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY