LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - Scam artists are always finding new ways to try and steal money from Americans, especially the most vulnerable ones. Scams involving stealing Social Security numbers are nothing new, but there are some warnings about a new kind of scam that could impact just about anyone.

Authorities in New York are already seeing the scam play out and are warning citizens there. But those scams rarely stay in one place for too long, and if this one has been successful there, it could spread to other states like Louisiana and Texas before too long.

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The phone scam, according to Fox23News in Albany, New York, "consists of people claiming that the social security number of the person they are calling is compromised and that someone from the Social Security Administration will come to their house to issue a new number."

Law enforcement frequently warns never to engage with these kinds of calls - in fact, you should hang up immediately. And you should definitely never give out your private information over the phone.

What's happening in Albany is similar to what law enforcement in Louisiana were seeing last year in Alexandria, Louisiana.

"APD said the scammers will call, text or e-mail victims and tell them the Social Security Administration is changing their Social Security number," KALB reported in April of 2023. "They will then instruct the victims to tell the scammers what their Social Security number is so that the scammers can provide the victim with a new number."

Under no circumstances should you ever give your social security number to anyone you don't know. Especially since there is no means of "issuing" you another one.

If you get a call like this, you should report it to your local law enforcement immediately.

Mael Balland via Unsplash.com
Mael Balland via Unsplash.com
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Protecting Your Identity

Guarding against phone scams is crucial in today's interconnected world. Here are some best practices to help protect your identity from phone-related fraud:

Caller ID Verification: Don't blindly trust caller ID. Scammers can manipulate it to display misleading information. If a call seems suspicious, verify the caller's identity independently.

Avoid Answering Unknown Numbers: If you don't recognize the number, let it go to voicemail. Legitimate callers often leave messages, and this practice helps filter out potential scams.

Be Skeptical of Urgent Calls: Scammers often create a sense of urgency to prompt quick action. Whether it's claiming you owe money or enticing you with a limited-time offer, take a moment to verify the information independently before proceeding.

Do Not Share Personal Information: Legitimate organizations won't ask for sensitive information like Social Security numbers or credit card details over the phone. Be cautious about sharing any personal or financial information.

Use Call Blocking Apps: Many smartphones have built-in features or apps that help identify and block potential scam calls. Explore and utilize these tools to enhance your phone's security.

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Hang Up on Robocalls: If you receive an automated call urging you to press a button or speak with an operator, hang up immediately. Engaging with such calls can lead to identity theft or financial loss.

Verify Unexpected Calls: If a supposed authority, like a government agency or your bank, contacts you unexpectedly, hang up and call them back using a verified contact number. This ensures you're speaking to the actual organization.

Educate Yourself: Stay informed about common phone scams and tactics used by scammers. Awareness is a powerful defense against falling victim to fraudulent schemes.

Register on the "Do Not Call" List: Enroll your phone number on the national "Do Not Call" registry to reduce the number of unsolicited calls you receive. Legitimate telemarketers should respect this list.

Report Suspicious Calls: If you encounter a potential phone scam, report it to relevant authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or your country's consumer protection agency.

Secure Personal Information: Be cautious about discussing personal matters in public places where others may overhear, especially information that could be used for identity theft.

By incorporating these best practices into your phone usage habits, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to phone scams and protect your identity from potential fraudsters. Stay vigilant and prioritize your security in the digital landscape.

Ranking States with Most Online Scams 2022

Here's a state-by-state look, using data available from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), ranking states by total amount of money lost to fraud in 2022.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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