I received a phone call yesterday. It was from a guy, who sounded very, sharp, named Robert. He introduced himself, and before I even had a second to reply back to his introduction, he went into his pitch:
“We have suspended your social security number on an immediate and permanent basis. We have received reports of suspicious activity in your name, and to further protect you and your social security number we have suspended it. Please press 1 now, so that you can speak to someone on our team about the steps you need to take in order to further protect your social security number and your identity.”
This is getting serious.
Now, I have warned people around these scams many times over the last decade, and I’ll save you the suspense, this is a scam – but I will admit, when it actually happened to me, I was, as the kids say – shook. Was this the real thing? We are in the middle of buying a house, so I know my social security number has been run through a credit check recently – did someone steal my identity which raised a red flag? Tax season is also around the corner, a time of year that creates an uptick in scam attempts. All of the apocalyptic thoughts you can think of immediately go zooming through your head, and I can completely understand how easy it would be to press 1 and go through the process to get answers.
In my case, I was able to rely upon the advice I’ve given others when they’ve communicated to me that they have received a call in a similar matter, so my prior knowledge was activated and saved the day. What if you don’t have prior knowledge? What if you or someone you know has never experienced something like this? What if you are curious about what you can do to ensure your information is safe?
Don’t fall for it.
When you press 1, you are routed to a prompt that asks you to identify yourself by giving your, you guessed it, social security number. The same people who are trying to warn you about suspicious use of your social security number just got you to fork it over, all by raising pretend alarms to get your attention – a nauseating real-life sleight of hand.
Scammers want to create a sense of urgency that makes you believe you must solve the problem at hand, right now and there’s no time to lose. That’s not real-life. Every day we are presented with problems that require thought, comprehension, and collaboration.
Fortunately, the FTC warns us about these scams and provides education on the topic which we should all revisit to refresh our memory on consumer awareness. You should also rely on your trusted advisors – don’t hesitate to reach out to your team if something like this ever happens to you and you have a question. Don’t have an advisor? Start here.
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