Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is warning consumers about scam artists posing as government officials, law enforcement, or utility providers in an attempt to trick consumers into paying large sums of money.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division reports that Social Security scams are prevalent right now. Fraudsters are using robocalls stating that “legal enforcement actions have been filed on your Social Security number due to fraudulent activities.” Consumers are then instructed to either press “1” to speak to an agent or told they need to call back a number provided in order to “avoid legal proceedings.” When consumers follow these instructions, they are told they must pay a large sum of money via gift cards or prepaid cards in order to resolve the problem and avoid legal repercussions. Consumers may also be asked to provide their Social Security number for verification purposes.
“Consumers should be very careful when they get a call out of the blue, since scammers can easily claim to be someone they’re not,” cautioned Attorney General Chris Carr. “We encourage all Georgians to learn how to recognize the signs of a scam and how to safely verify whether a caller is who they claim to be.”
In another scam that’s making the rounds now, a fraudster posing as a representative from DIRECTV contacts consumers about a “promotion” that will enable them to cut their existing bill in half. To take advantage of this deal, consumers are told they must prepay the next three months of their bill by purchasing an eBay gift card, loading it with the appropriate amount of money, and then calling back with the DIRECTV promotional code and eBay gift card information. The scammer claims that once the consumer does this, he/she will not owe anything to DIRECTV for the next three months and that after the three months have passed, the consumer’s bill will be half its current amount.
To avoid these scams and others like them, the Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division offers the following tips:
- The Social Security Administration will never call to threaten your benefits, suspend your account or tell you to send money.
- Legitimate businesses and organizations will never insist that you pay money via a gift card, prepaid card or wire transfer.
- Never give your bank account number, credit card number of any part of your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you out of the blue.
- Pressure to act immediately, especially by using scare tactics, such as threatening arrest, telling you a loved one is in danger, or claiming your computer has been hacked are all red flags of a scam.
- Scammers sometimes use software that lets them fake the caller ID information, so don’t assume the caller ID information can be trusted to verify that a caller is who he or she claims to be.
- If you get a call in which you are being asked to provide payment/financial information or personal identifying information such as a Social Security Number, hang up. Then, look up the actual, verified phone number for the business and call that number back to see whether what the caller stated is actually true.
More information about Social Security scams and reporting can be found here.
If you have been the victim of a scam, you can report it to the Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 404-651-8600 or consumer.ga.gov.