I am going to present a few fraudulent phone call scenarios that exist in the real world and that claim numerous victims, and you see if you can determine what the scammers are doing that actually doesn’t make sense if you stop and think about it:
- A caller claims to be a Social Security Administration representative calls and warns you that your benefits are about to be suspended because of some problem or other. The caller ID shows the correct SSA customer service line. She needs you to verify your Social Security number in order to fix the issue.
- A caller claims to represent a credit card company. He says that your card has been deactivated due to suspicious activity. In order to get your card working again, he needs the card number, expiration date, and three-digit code from the back of the card.
- A caller claims to be a Medicare representative and informs you that your benefits are going to be suspended because of an issue. Before he can fix the problem, he needs you to verify your Medicare ID number.
Did you catch it?
In every case, the caller is asking for a piece of information that the claimed agency or company would already have…because they created that piece of information in the first place.
- The Social Security Administration has your Social Security number. They’re the ones who assigned it to you.
- Your credit card company assigned your card number and other details to you. They already know it.
- Medicare already knows your ID number because they gave you that number. If there’s a problem with your account, it’s one piece of information they don’t need.
(You could also make the more general observation that these all involve a stranger attempting to alarm you and then asking for personal information, but these specific questions should really tip you off that the caller is not who he or she claims to be.)