The red flag comes as an urgent call from someone who sounds official and has a believable story about a concern.
Expert impersonators acting like they are federal employees from Medicare, the IRS, FBI or another 3 letter official sounding government office are so convincing that they catch us off-guard and have figured out your triggers for us to fall into their traps. Knowing how they work can save you from losing out to these cyber criminals.
For example, the social security scam targets older Americans who rely on their earned social security benefit. Suddenly the crooks lead an innocent loved one into believing that their social security number was stolen and the bank account associated with their deposit has been frozen.
In order to unlock it, you need to hand over personal account info that later the crooks use to rob you. Let’s go over the worst ones to avoid that have scripts sounding like these below.
Medicare card replacement scam
“Hi this is so and so from Medicare working on our card replacement program. We are upgrading all paper Medicare cards to secure plastic ones and need to confirm some information before I can ship yours to you. Let’s start with your Medicare number and address.”
Medicare cards are still paper and no one will call to ask for personal information such as your complete Medicare number.
Fake Grants on Facebook
Someone seeming to be a ‘friend’ on Facebook reaches out to you and shares the amazing news that you have been selected to receive a big federal grant. A convincing explanation has you sending a smaller chunk of cash in order to get the grant to come through. In the end, thinking it’s a real friend, you are out thousands of dollars, the scammer who hacked your real friend’s facebook account is long gone.
Stolen Social Security Scam
It goes like this.
“Hi, I’m so and so a federal agent letting you know we are investigating the fact that your social security number has been stolen and involved in securing a rental car that’s been involved in a crime. The investigation of this has led to your bank account and social security benefits being suspended. To prove your identity and verify access to your own money you are asked to confirm your social security number and bank account.”
That’s the moment they got you.
Student Loan Forgiveness Scam
“Hi, this is federal agent Melissa so and so working to deliver their student loan forgiveness award from recently passed legislation that President Biden signed into law for Covid-19 Relief. We just need to complete your application and get the bank information you want to supply for the government transfer of funds to reduce any left-over student loan debt.”
All the scammer needs is your bank account number and routing number to drain you dry.
Fake FBI sweepstakes fee Scam
“Hi, this FBI agent so and so working on a consumer affairs case where you are the recipient of a sweepstakes that failed to transfer your winnings. While criminal charges are likely being filed against the other party, our investigation is coming to a close and we are able to authorize the sweepstakes funds of $1.9 million be released from escrow and sent to you. The funds cannot be released until you confirm payment of taxes and fees in the amount of $100K.”
Nope, not real either.
Tips to avoid getting taken by these tricking crooks
- Ask yourself if you initiated this contact. If the answer is no, chances are high that it’s a scam.
- In your life, a real federal government worker calling you is slim to none. They almost always use regular US Mail.
- Never give out bank account info, your social security number or any other personally identifiable information to anyone you did not initiate contact with.
- No payments are required upfront from any contest, grant or tax refund.
- Avoid using any type of cryptocurrency for any transactions that you did not start first.