New scams use IRS, Social Security as personal information bait

June 23, 2004
Santa Paula News

With a Santa Paula couple recently scammed out of their life-savings by a Canadian-based lottery winner outfit, new alerts are being issued that more and more ways are being found to cheat people, especially senior citizens, out of their money.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesWith a Santa Paula couple recently scammed out of their life-savings by a Canadian-based lottery winner outfit, new alerts are being issued that more and more ways are being found to cheat people, especially senior citizens, out of their money.And some scams center on Social Security or the Internal Revenue Service, the latter a name that can strike terror into the heart of the most honest citizen.The Social Security scam has become so widespread that government officials have issued a national alert about scammers posing as agency employees who are out to steal personal information.There have been reports of scammers calling or visiting prospective victims and fabricating stories in an attempt to get them to release personal information, including Social Security numbers.One method used by the scammers is to call a senior citizen to claim that due to a Social Security agency power outage they need to verify the recipient’s information.Scammers have even used Social Security’s own on-hold recordings, which are easy for anyone to tape, to make the caller – and the request – more authentic.
The second scam is also targeted at getting personal information that can be used to rip the victims off by using their identity to open credit card and other account.The scammer calls and claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service which is having trouble with the potential victim’s tax records, latest return, or in the case of many on a fixed income, lack of a return.The IRS scammer is able to get a wide range of personal information as many people have an inherent fear of getting into trouble with the federal tax collection agency.A good rule of thumb to avoid being the victim of a scam is to ask the caller for their name, employee identification number and location of where the call is originating. Also get a phone number and tell the caller you will get back to them, a move that – in the case of a scam attempt – will usually result in the scammer hanging up the phone.If the caller does supply such information, tell them you’ll call them back and then look in the telephone book to call the nearest IRS or Social Security office to check out the caller’s claims.If you are the target of a telephone scam whether successful or not on the part of the scammer, contact the Santa Paula Police Department at 525-4474 and file a report.



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