Susan Tompor: Social Security scammers now text pictures of phony badges

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

So you just got a text from Social Security and the guy even tried to reassure you that he's the real deal by texting you a picture of his badge. Should you feel that things are on the up-and-up and respond?

The scammers who are out to steal your Social Security number and your money now have a new game going. They're not just spoofing phone numbers out of Washington. They're now impersonating someone from Social Security by sending photos of government badges.

The crooks have created fake versions of ID badges that many federal employees use to gain access to federal buildings.

"The scammers play on emotion, generally fear, to get people to act without thinking," Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul said in a press call Wednesday.

He stressed that it's essential that people simply hang up and not even engage with the caller. Don't let anyone threaten you or harass you into thinking that somehow your Social Security number is connected to a criminal investigation.

Social Security isn't going to call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. But scammers make such threatening calls do every hour on the hour.


CVS shoppers might have even heard in-store announcements lately from the Social Security Administration to warn them about such scams. Walmart and Home Depot participated in the latest awareness campaign, too. You don't want to buy a gift card — and then read off the card numbers to someone on the phone who claims to be from law enforcement or Social Security.

In some cases, your caller ID may show the real SSA phone number — 800-772-1213 — when the scammers call. But again, the con artists are able to spoof this number and make it look more legitimate.

Consumers continue to get alarming phone calls from someone who claims to be from law enforcement or Social Security. The caller then may try to scare you into thinking that your Social Security number has been connected to running drugs and money laundering across the border.

The crooks use a variety of tactics to seem legitimate, including rattling off a “badge number” of law enforcement officers, sending email attachments containing personal information about an “investigation” and texting links to click on and “learn more” about a Social Security-related problem.


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