Warning to the public: The Social Security Scammers are at it again in our area. We’ve received reports of people getting calls telling them there is a problem with their social security number being used and that the victim must be responsible for getting the number secured by purchasing gift cards and providing the pin numbers over the phone. One local victim reported losing $4,500 in gift cards to the scammers, who told him to purchase the cards at local stores and provide the pin numbers over the phone.
These scams try to alarm you or scare you. Don’t be fooled. Scammers trick you into handing over your cash, personal I.D., checking account numbers, and credit card information any way they can.
The Federal Trade Commission has some good advice:
The Eugene Police Department would like to remind people to follow their instincts and never feel embarrassed about confirming the identity of a caller. This can be accomplished by contacting the represented agency directly via a published contact phone number and asking to speak with the individual directly or confirm the information with the agency’s non-emergency phone number. If you are aware that the call is a scam, please report the activity to the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline, 1-877-877-9392 or www.ic3.gov. EPD’s non-emergency number is 541.682.5111, if you are unsure about the information or have been victimized by the scam.
These cases provide an opportunity for a reminder on how to avoid becoming the victim of fraud. Scams are cyclical in nature. Eugene Police recommend to remain careful and skeptical of callers:
If someone asks you for your cash, credit card numbers or other personal information-especially if you don’t know them well-the safest move is to refuse their request and check with the police, or find an independent way to contact a legitimate business and follow up rather than responding right away to the caller.
A legitimate government agency will not ask you to purchase gift cards.
Don’t give out personal or financial information to someone who calls you. If you are unsure, hang up and independently find the phone number of the alleged represented agency and call yourself. A law enforcement agency will not ask you for this type of information or request that money be sent by way of money order for any reason.
Beware of high pressure techniques, such as the need to give information or make a decision on the spot.
If it sounds quirky or weird, it probably is.