April 12, 2024 • By Dennis Beaver

“I manage a fulfillment center in the South that assures products ordered on e-commence websites actually reach the customer.

“Frankly, I grew tired of hiring 20-somethings for office work, as most of them wasted time on their cell phones or played computer games when they thought no one was watching. A friend gave me your article ‘Needing to Hire? Think Wrinkles,’ which made a strong case for hiring older, much more responsible workers.

“And that’s what we did – hiring people over 60 years of age who needed a job and were grateful to work for us. Things could not go any smoother. But recently, our computer data was stolen, including names and ages of all employees.

“One day, Marie got a phone call from someone claiming to be from Social Security. The caller wanted her to send $500 or she could be arrested for fraud. She asked me to listen, and it was an obvious scam. And then other employees got similar calls from people claiming to be with the IRS and different governmental agencies, demanding money. I think you should address these issues as older people are often too trusting. Thanks, Terry.”

Slam the Scam

“Sadly, we hear about these scams on a daily basis,” said Washington D.C.-based public affairs specialist, Nilsa Henriquez, in the press office of the Social Security Administration. She added, “March 7 is Slam the Scam Day, and with the help of the Office of Inspector General and the Federal Trade Commission, we explain to the public how these scams work and ways of protecting yourself from losing personal information and your money.”

Nilsa outlined the “sophisticated tactics scammers are using.”

(1) These people are very convincing, playing on your emotions and fear–scaring you, so that you act without thinking, and into revealing personal information or sending them money.

They pretend to be from an agency or company you know, such as Social Security, the IRS, even your local power and water utility. They pressure you into thinking there is a problem requiring a cash payment, via gift, pre-paid debit cards, crypto-currency or wire transfers.

Your fear is their best friend, as there is usually a threat of being arrested if you do not comply.

(2) If you get one of these calls, emails or letters, and anyone can, regardless of their age, first, remain calm and ignore the messages.

Often it starts with a phone call, email or a text claiming that you or a family member received an overpayment requiring an immediate refund or they will be arrested. They want you to act quickly, so remain calm and do not speak with the caller.

Also, do not click on any links in an email.

Using spoofed numbers, scammers will often use names of employees at Social Security or OIG (Office of Inspector General) so it looks as if the call is legit.

No governmental agency will ask you for cash, gift cards, wire transfers, pre-paid debit cards or crypto-currency.

(3) If someone gets one of these calls, texts, emails or letters, immediately report it.

We want to know when someone has become a target of these scammers or has even been scammed. Go online and file a report with the Office of Inspector General at: oig.ssa.gov. Our website is ssa.gov .

Report the scam and share this information with friends and family. This way it helps to Slam the Scam.

(4) How many people have been scammed?

The Federal Trade Commission said Social Security scams cost consumers more than $126 million in 2023, according to CBS News. This is a huge problem that we and other federal agencies are taking seriously. So often victims are afraid to admit to those closest to them what has occurred. Once you send money, the scammers know who they can victimize again.

It is so sad hearing these stories of people who were frightened, that, without consulting anyone, just sent money or, even worse, revealed their Social Security number.

(5) Know the signs, the red flags of a scam, what we call “The four Ps.”

Scammers all share the same tactics, known as “The four Ps.” They Pretend, they say There is a Problem, they might say that you have won a Prize, they Pressure and, they want Payment.

Anytime you receive a call that ends up in asking you to send money, it is a scam. Social Security will never call, threaten or demand payment.

(6) Is my bank responsible to repay me if I was the victim of a scam?

In general banks are not responsible for voluntary payments you make, but are for unauthorized withdrawals. Users of the Zelle app have greater chances of being made whole. The Federal Trade Commission discusses several avenues you can pursue at https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-do-if-you-were-scammed.

Concluding our interview, Nilsa underscored a clear give-away that you are dealing with a scammer:

“If you are instructed to tell no one about this call, go to your bank and withdraw cash, and say that it is to buy a car, hang up.”

Dennis Beaver Practices law in Bakersfield and welcomes comments and questions from readers,
which may be faxed to (661) 323-7993,
or e-mailed to Lagombeaver1 – at – Gmail.com.