- The US FTC revealed that phishing campaigns involving SSN numbers have been on the rise in 2018.
- The FTC saw 63,000 reports of fraud being reported since 2018 compared to 3,200 reports in 2017.
- Users have been officially advised to not offer any personal information to unknown individuals online or via phone calls.
A group of individuals pretending to be Social Security Administrations (SSA) personnel have scammed users into giving up at least $16.6 million in 2018. The US FTC has issued a PSA to warn users about the ongoing scams that have gone up by over twenty times since 2017. The actual increase in the number of scams may be even higher as the FTC only accounted for registered complaints.
The fraudsters contact individuals and inform the targets that their Social Security Number has been blocked or suspended due to suspicious activity. Once the scammers are able to gain some amount of trust, they ask for sensitive details including banking information. Immediate payments are often requested, and many unsuspecting individuals end up paying the requested amount without question.
Users can keep themselves safe by keeping an eye out for telltale signs. For starters, the Social Security Administrations (SSA) never requests sensitive information over the phone. Moreover, even if the stories about suspicious activity were true, paying the scammers would not make any fraudulent activity disappear in a matter of minutes. Whenever users receive any fraudulent calls, targeted individuals should hang up the call immediately and notify authorities about the scam attempt.
It is not just social security number scams that take place, but other government agencies like the IRS are also “represented” by the fraudsters to target users. Communication channels for these scam attacks can include phone calls, emails, social media platforms, and website forms. Phishing campaigns have been on the rise lately with Instagram users being targeted last month and it is up to individuals to be more careful about their interactions with strangers to prevent such scams.