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Don't fall for Social Security phone scammers

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | November 9, 2020 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — When Linda Curran got the call, she knew it was a scam.

“I got two phone calls, and the first was a computer voice telling me that my Social Security number was suspended due to fraudulent activity in Texas,” she said.

And if she didn’t pay some money to “un-suspend” her number, the government was going to send an officer to arrest her, Curran said.

“The second time, they even left a threatening voicemail,” she said.

It is, of course, a scam, according to Quincy Police Chief Kieth Siebert.

“The Social Security Administration will never call, they don’t block or suspend accounts,” Siebert said. “This is always a scam.”

These scams come in all shapes and sizes, are especially prolific at tax time, and always threaten arrest if money isn’t paid immediately. Siebert advises anyone getting such a call to not give out any personal or financial information and report it to either local or federal law enforcement.

Which is exactly what Curran and her husband, Gerald Crane, did.

“I hung up and blocked the number,” she said. “And I reported it to the FBI.”

Siebert said the Quincy Police Department has gotten fewer reports of Social Security Administration or Internal Revenue Service scams recently, largely because he believes “people know it’s a scam.” However, he said the bullying and threatening techniques used by scammers can work on “vulnerable populations” and “people who are a little bit more sheltered.”

Curran is concerned that some people will fall for these calls and wants to make sure that seniors especially know that scammers are at work.

“It’s bad for seniors,” she said. “Some will believe them.”

The Federal Trade Commission also advises people never to give out or confirm personal information unless you know who is asking for it, not to trust a name, phone number or email address merely because it appears to be connected with the government, and to contact government agencies using phone numbers and website addresses publicly available and known to be legitimate.

Instances of fraud or attempted fraud can be reported to the FTC at report fraud.ftd.gov.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.