Tips to Avoid Scammers and the Facts About Government Agencies

There has been an increase in scams involving people impersonating the government. Scammers say they are from the IRS, Medicare, Social Security Administration, and even the FBI. Most of these scams target seniors and pray on them using fear tactics or promises of big money. Here are a few examples and facts about the government to keep in mind to avoid falling victim.

Medicare

Scam: There has been a recent scam where the imposters call seniors advising that they are from Medicare and are sending out new cards to protect the seniors from the spread of Covid-19. The scammers ask for your personal information and Medicare number.

Fact: Medicare already has your member number and personal information if you are enrolled, and they will not ask you for that information. In addition, Medicare will not call you on the phone, text you, email you, or message you on the Internet. If Medicare needs to reach you, they will likely send a letter via the US Mail.

Grants

Scam: A Facebook “friend” advises a senior that she received a large federal grant and that if she sends a smaller amount of money, she will receive a larger amount of money from the grant in return. This is a common theme, sending money for the promise of more money in return.

Fact: Government grants do not just appear. Just like how you can’t win the lotto if you don’t play. They have to be applied for, which is labor-intensive and are for very specific purposes. In addition, the government would not reach out via social media. Therefore, any requests for money on Facebook or any other social media platform are likely a scam, even if you think you know the person. Fake accounts are set up all the time.

Social Security 

Scam: Someone pretending to be a federal agent calls and advises seniors that their social security numbers have been stolen and their bank accounts are suspended, as well as having their social security payments been compromised. The scammers tell the seniors that in order to maintain access to their money, they must convert their cash to Bitcoin and transfer it to a secure account that the government has already set up for them. 

Fact: The government will not suspend your social security payments or any payments because someone stole your social security number. In addition, the government will neither request nor accept payment in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. The federal government will also not be calling you on the phone. However, if there is any concern, they will send you a letter in the mail. Additionally, suppose someone else uses your social security number. In that case, the government will not notify you. Still, the activity would be reported to the three major credit bureaus, so it is essential to regularly look at your credit reports to make sure no one has stolen your identity.

Bank Phishing

Scam: A phony text message was sent to a customer stating it was from the bank. A look-up of the phone number advised it was a legitimate bank phone number. However, the texts advise there was a fraud on the person’s account. A follow-up phone call ensued where the scammer on the phone knew the victim’s name, last four of their social security number, last four of their account number, etc. The victim says they didn’t provide any additional information other than to confirm what the scammer said. Minutes later, the victim tried to log in to his online account and was locked out. He is still locked out, and there have been several wire transfers initiated, draining his account of money.

Fact: Banks have advised that customers be aware and careful about the scams happening via texts or phone calls from banks. The banks will not contact you to ask for personal information such as a personal identification number (PIN), and they will not threaten to close or suspend an account.

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