There are endless variations on the “scare someone over the phone so they give up personal information” scam motif, and most of them are pretty familiar at this point, but every now and then a new angle emerges. This is one.
The scam involves someone posing as a law enforcement agent (usually FBI), calling to inform the victim that they rented a car in Texas, and that the car was found with blood and cocaine inside. The victim is then pressed to give details such as his or her Social Security number, financial account numbers, and so on.
There appears to be another version in which the caller claims to be a Social Security Administration representative, and in addition to the car filled with evidence, they have also found an offshore account in the victim’s name holding a large amount of cash, and that his or her Social Security benefits are going to be suspended. The caller then proceeds to attempt to wheedle the same personal information from the victim.
Regardless of who the caller claims to be, these features appear to be repeated in every case:
- The car was allegedly rented in Texas
- Police found blood and cocaine in it
- We need your Social Security number
These are the details currently used in the scam, but don’t be fooled if they eventually change Texas to Florida or cocaine to heroin (I have a feeling the “blood” part is going to stay…”you’re a murder suspect” is almost guaranteed to get a strong emotional reaction).
Remember these points:
- If a stranger is trying to make you afraid, then asking for money or personal information to make the fear go away, something isn’t right.
- The Social Security Administration already has your number. They’re the ones who gave it to you in the first place. Law enforcement agencies easy access to it, too.
- If the FBI really finds blood and cocaine in a car associated with you, they’re probably not going to call you on the telephone.
- While the SSA does make phone calls, it’s not generally the first point of contact, and it’s almost always going to be regarding an issue already known to the person receiving the call.
- This scam hinges on fears about identity theft—most people’s first reaction is “I didn’t rent a car in Texas!” and then make the connection to identity theft themselves. Recognize the tactic for what it is.