Social security scam targeting the elderly

Local News

WEST CARROLL PARISH (10/4/18) – Lately Kathy Lofton’s phone has been ringing off the hook.

“It’s awful just terrible. We’re getting more and more so I turned the answering machine off”, said Lofton.

Scammers are looking to take advantage of those who may least expect it. They’ll call saying your social security number has been suspended or an action has been taken against you. It’s usually a computer generated message known as a robocall.

“The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) have outlawed these types of phone calls. So if you’re phones ringing off the wall I assure you that a legitimate business or government office is not calling you”, said Jo Ann Deal with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Kathy and her husband Pat both receive social security benefits. Yesterday they got three different phone calls saying her husband’s identity was in trouble.

“[They said] he had illegal activity on his social security number”, said Lofton.

The BBB says if you get that call, it’s a  hoax. They urge you to either ignore the call or block the number all together. 

“Social security suspension or action being taken against you – all designed to get you to dial the number. None of that terminology is appropriate”, said Deal.

Deal says because your social security number equals cash, a lot times the elderly are prey.

“Any individual who’s receiving Medicare, Medicaid any government funding is a target”, said Deal.

The Loftons are in their 80s and they knew immediately something was off. 

“A lot of people our age are susceptible to that kind of thing they get really upset and think that they need to take care of it”, said Lofton.

And its not the first time a scammer tried their luck.

“Somebody named John had told him [Pat] that he won 3 million dollars and a car”, laughed Lofton.

The BBB says your service provider can block robocalls, a lot times free of charge. If you’re older and have established enough credit, they encourage you to freeze your social security number so you won’t have to worry.

“The freeze means that no one can use your number”, said Deal.

Identity thieves getting their hands on your sensitive isn’t information isn’t as hard as you might think. “Those documents are in courthouses across the country”, said Deal. 

Lofton says the one piece of advice she can give is not be naive. 

“Don’t believe everything somebody tells you”, said Lofton.

To find out how to freeze your social security number click here.

The BBB is hosting a document destruction shred event October 26th. For more information click here.

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