Here’s the latest scam alert from the Indiana AG’s office:
Attorney General Greg Zoeller warns of phishing scams circulating in the form of requests for personal information from federal agencies including the IRS, Social Security Administration, Medicare, Medicaid and the Census Bureau. Scam artists are calling, emailing and sending letters that sound and look official requesting your social security numbers, birthdates and account numbers. These are phishing scams and they are designed to steal your identity.
You should also be cautioned of requests from “federal authorities” stating that money needs to be returned due to an over-payment as this is also a scam.
Anyone with concerns or doubts should verify the legitimacy of a request by calling a trusted phone number – not one provided in the email, letter or call.
It just never stops with the “posing as a government agent,” does it?
Usually this is the part where I reiterate that you should never give personal information to anyone unless you can verify who they are and why they need it, and I’m going to do that (actually, I just did), but there’s another bit of knowledge that’s easy to forget, but obvious when you think about it:
The government, whether federal, state or local, already knows your name, date of birth, Social Security number and other information.
If you just remember that fact, you’ll see through every one of these scams.
When you pay your taxes or get your license renewed, they’re not asking for your information because they don’t know it. They’re asking for it to help verify that you are who you claim to be. If something doesn’t match up, that means you’re either a victim of identity theft or are possibly committing a crime yourself. Unless there’s just an error, which does occasionally happen.
The difference in these situations is that you are initiating the transaction; you show up at the license branch to renew, you submit your tax returns, you apply for Medicare benefits, and so on.
No government agency is going to send you letters, email you, call you or show up at your door asking to verify your personal information. They have it. They only ask for it when you contact them first, asking for something in return.
By the way, sign up for these alerts from the Indiana Attorney General, if you haven’t already done so.