SMS Text Used as New Tactic for Government Imposters Says IG
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The Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (SSA) says that a new Social Security scam is making the rounds. In this scam, fraudsters use fake government ID badges to trick victims into sending them money.
The fake badges spoof government employee access badges used to get into buildings. They may use official logos and current employee names.
This scam involves fraudsters sending SMS text messages to victims to convince them that they are government employees working for SSA. The text messages contain an image of the imposter government badges.
“The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has received reports of phone scammers creating fake versions of the identification badges most Federal employees use to gain access to Federal buildings,” says Gail S. Ennis the Inspector General for SSA in a press release.
Part of makes this Social Security scam scary is that the forged ID badges may use names and photos of actual government employees.
Scammers glean real employee names from government websites. They can then use social media sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, or other public websites to grab a photo to use on the ID badge.
SMS Text Scams
According to SSA, the agency does use SMS text messages as a form of communication, but only when someone has opted into receiving texts. And even then, they are used for two-factor authentication (2FA) and for updates and notifications.
Potential victims are informed that there is a problem with their Social Security number or account.
Scammers often scare benefit recipients or even threaten them to get them to send money. They may tell the victim that their Social Security number will be suspended unless they pay a fine immediately.
Scammers often demand payment with gift cards are prepaid debit cards to make their schemes hard to trace.
The US Social Security Administration does not take payment over the phone. The agency also does not accept wire transfers or cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
How to Avoid a Social Security Scam
The US Social Security Administration will never suspend anyone’s Social Security Number.
US federal agencies, like SSA and the IRS, generally initiate contact using USPS Postal Mail. Government employees do not take payments over the phone.
- Be highly suspicious of any unsolicited call informing you there is a problem with your Social Security number or another government account.
- Never pay anyone with gift cards, wire transfers, prepaid payment cards, or cryptocurrency.
- Do not send cash in the mail
- Use an up-to-date antivirus app like Heimdel Security to help protect against phone phishing attacks.
“If there is a problem, we will mail you a letter. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us,” says SSA according to their website post.
If you receive a Social Security Scam call, hang up on the caller, and report it to the Office of the Inspector General.