Social Security warns of fraud

  • Associated Press
  • Friday, May 28, 2004 9:00pm
  • Business

WASHINGTON – Social Security officials issued a national fraud alert Friday about people posing as agency employees in scams aimed at obtaining personal information.

There have been reports of people calling or visiting prospective victims and fabricating stories in an attempt to get them to release information, including Social Security numbers. The reports first surfaced in the Chicago area. One indicated a scam in North Dakota.

Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart said people should be alert and cautious when releasing personal information. “I find it very troubling that our most vulnerable citizens are being targeted by these unscrupulous people,” she said.

The impostor employees used a variety of techniques, according to Mark Lassiter, a Social Security spokesman.

One report said that the person called and claimed that due to an agency power outage they needed to verify the recipient’s information. In another instance a scam used Social Security’s on-hold recordings to make the call seem more authentic.

Lassiter said the people posing as Social Security employees and the use of the recordings “caught our radar screen.”

He said it was not clear whether the incidents were related and that the inspector general was investigating the reports.

People who believe they have fallen victim to a scam are encouraged to call the inspector general’s hotline at 800-269-0271.

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