April showers (and bomb cyclone snow) may bring May flowers, but they are also bringing a surge of consumer complaints on a new scam. A Social Security Administration (SSA) scam is on the rise and the Federal Trade Commission warns that consumer complaints about it are escalating while the IRS tax fraud scam is declining.
This month’s newsletter also addresses how young adults are susceptible to identity theft. I was surprised to learn that young adults (age 18-24) are twice as likely to experience identity theft as older adults. It also takes nearly twice as long for younger people to detect that their identity has been compromised as it does to for the older population, meaning younger people are particularly vulnerable to being victims of identity theft.
As part of our Community Outreach Education Initiative, which targets middle and high school students, we recently spoke to North High students (Go Vikings!) about protecting themselves from identity theft We know that early intervention and education surrounding issues such as ID theft, dating and consent, bias, and hate crimes are key to prevention.*
Read on to get more facts about the SSA scam and how young adults are exposed to identity theft.
IDENTITY THEFT AND YOUNG ADULTS
Identity theft is more common among young children, teens and college students than any other age group. According to a 2011 Carnegie Mellon study of more than 40,000 children, consumers under age 18 were twice as likely as their parents to be victims of identity theft.
Many teens have clean credit reports and unused Social Security numbers which makes their identities very appealing to thieves. Young adults are also more likely to share their personal information online including their home address, phone number and their location through online social media sites like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. Status updates are easily searchable and can lead to an identity thief gathering bits and pieces of personal data – a home address, school mascot or pet’s name that might be the answer to a security question the thief needs to hack into an online bank account.
Click on this link to learn more about the issues to address when speaking to them about protecting their personal data.
Now is the time to start teaching your young adult about identity theft and its consequences. If you are a friend, grandparent, parent or guardian of a teenager or young adult, start educating them now about digital dangers and ways they can protect themselves.
ALERT! Social Security Administration Scam
You may be familiar with the IRS scam. A person calls saying you have failed to pay your back taxes and just to make you even more nervous, they may say that there is a warrant out for your arrest. (Just a little tidbit about threats with warrants: real law enforcement officers will never call and give you a “heads up” that there is a warrant out for your arrest; it’s usually used as a surprise tactic). The scammer directs you to pay them, usually with some sort of money card or I-Tunes card.
In this most recent scam, you receive a robocall claiming to be from the Social Security Administration office. As we have said before, the number one red flag that you are a the target of a scam is FEAR, and this scam can make anyone fearful. The caller tells you your Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it was involved in a crime. You are asked to confirm your Social Security number, and/or told that you need to withdraw all your money from the bank and put the cash on a gift card or in other unusual ways for “safekeeping.”
You may be told your accounts will be seized or frozen if you don’t act quickly.
Additionally, you may be told to “press 1” to speak to a government “support representative” for help reactivating your Social Security number. There is no support person, and pressing “1” will only get you further in to the scammers web of deceit.
As we’ve discussed before, scammers use caller ID “spoofing” which makes the number that comes up look like the real Social Security Administration is calling. With such trickery, these scammers are good at convincing people to give up their Social Security numbers and other personal information. Do not fall for it! Hang up. Bottom line, do not engage in any part of the conversation.
Click here for: SSA Impostor Scam Details