Fraud, Identity Theft and Scams—Get Educated

“Consumers need all the help they can get to make them aware of scams and frauds” involving the nation’s bedrock retirement income system, National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg said in an email on the eve of the second annual “Slam the Scam” day on March 4.

“These fraudsters are out there aplenty in the midst of COVID [the coronavirus]. Hats off to the SSA [Social Security Administration]," she wrote, "for making this matter a priority, especially given the heightened vulnerability of older Americans to scams.” 

SSA Inspector General Gail Ennis warned frequent scams include “government imposter telephone scams.” Last year, 718,000 people reported scams. Losses totaled $44.8 million.

“On National Slam the Scam Day, we will work to spread the word far and wide about these scams—and encourage people to warn their friends and family to just Hang Up!,” Ennis said [emphasis hers]. It held a Facebook Live explanatory event on March 4 and has a Scam Awareness page on its website.

But Ennis had some advice beforehand: “Real government officials will NEVER [her emphasis] threaten arrest or legal action against you if you don’t immediately send money, promise to increase your benefits or resolve identity theft if you pay a fee or move your money into a protected account, require payment with retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or by mailing or text or email you messages that contain your personal information.”