BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is urging Idahoans to be vigilant following a recent surge in people targeted by the so-called Social Security imposter scam.

Consumer complaints about the scam have increased this summer. Several people called the KTVB newsroom this week to say they've been targeted.

The attorney general says these type of phone calls have spiked over the last week.

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Some Idahoans have fallen victim to the scam and revealed sensitive information like Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Others have mailed the scammers gift cards.

Here is how the scam usually works: the recipient of the phone call is told their Social Security number has been linked to a crime. As a result of this made-up crime, the target is told their Social Security number has been blocked or suspended, but that it can be reinstated for a fee. The recipient of the call is also asked to confirm their Social Security number. Scammers sometimes vary their pitch, but the scam usually follows this general script.

A similar approach has been used in the past using email to target victims.

“This day and age, we have to keep our guard up against these scammers,” Wasden said. “If you find yourself being asked to share personal information with someone who called you, it is very likely a scam. Even if it means being curt, hang up the call as soon as the call feels suspicious. Remember, these are scammers and you owe them no courtesy whatsoever.”

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Wasden says to remember these four main points:

  1. The Social Security Administration will never call and ask for your Social Security number or ask you to pay a fee. It won’t call to threaten your benefits, either.
  1. Your caller ID might show the SSA’s real phone number (1-800-772-1213) but it’s not the real SSA calling. Computers make it easy to show any number on caller ID. Thanks to this phenomenon known as spoofing, caller ID can’t always be trusted.
  1. Never give your Social Security number to anyone who calls you. Do not confirm the last four digits. The same goes for bank account or credit card information. Remember, when you receive a call, you have no way to know for sure who is on the other end of the line. 
  1. Anyone who tells you to wire money, pay with a gift card, or send cash is a scammer. Any request for this type of payment is a huge red flag.

Wasden says be sure to talk about this and other scams with friends, family and neighbors so they’re less likely to be victimized.

If you have questions about these or other scams, call the Idaho Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 208-334-2424 or toll free at 1-800-432-3545.

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