The anatomy of scam calls. Don't be fooled!

By
Real Estate Agent with Thompson Company, REALTORS® MD594797

Lately, I've noticed an uptick in scam calls. It was quiet for some time (thank you very much!), but as of late I've been receiving multiple calls each and every day. How annoying, especially when caller IDs are being spoofed and it appears to be from a local number. 

Sometimes though, these call can turn into much more than a nuisance. Sometimes scammers pretend to be government employees and use scare tactics to threaten, and intimidate you into giving them personal information - or worse - money. Please don't be fooled! Hang up, and go about your business and/or report the number. You can report scam callers pretending to be from the Social Security Administration at oig.ssa.gov.

What to watch out for when you are not sure

The anatomy of scam calls:

  •  there's often a delay when you answer the phone (typical for auto-dialers)
  •  they may ask for your business instead of your name and/or another member of your household 
  •  it's a recording urging you to not hang up, this is an important message/serious business
  •  they employ scare tactics: if you don't press 1 now/speak with us immediately, your social security number will be suspended/you will be arrested/the sheriff is on his way
  •  they ask you to settle your debt by purchasing gift cards, money orders or pre-paid debit cards, or to wire money, or send cash
  •  they insult you/get angry when you voice any doubts/question them - the threat level increases

What can you do? How can you protect yourself?

Unfortunately, even with apps and add-ons designed to filter out scam calls, it's a sophisticated "business" that will keep on evolving and scare people into complying as long as they see some success. Please don't be fooled! Watch out for the common characteristics above, don't answer the phone or hang up when you do. When in doubt, please remind yourself that the SSA will not threaten you. Your social security number will not be suspended. They will not ask you to wire money or purchase gift cards. 

Think twice before you give out your cell phone numbers, or partake in seemingly harmless social media "games" to find out Which Disney Character you are or How many lives you've lived or When and how you will die. You are actually giving them permission to access your personal profile and who knows what else. Please exercise caution! 

Put your shredder to good use! Shred all letters, receipts, invoices, statements etc. anything that has personal information on it. 

Report imposters and scam callers. It may seem like a hopeless cause but you never know.. it could be your report that leads to an arrest. For scams involving the SSA, file a report at oig.ssa.gov.

Don't carry your social security card around with you.

Watch out for click baits, and websites that look like the original. Be mindful of the links you click and websites you visit. 

 The anatomy of scam calls. Be careful!

Should you have fallen victim to a scammer/imposter, don't waste your time on shame, but report, and take steps to protect yourself from further damage. Please! It's happened to (too) many, you are (unfortunately) not alone. 

Don't be fooled! Social security scams et al share the same anatomy. Be aware. Use common sense. Trust your gut feeling. 

 *****

P.S. REALTORS® will not ask you for your social security number. We do not need it! Years ago our forms (specifically the Financial Disclosure Form) had a space for it, but it has long been deleted. We do not need your social to represent you, to go house-hunting, to write offers, to list your property. We will ask you for a copy of your driver's license and to meet up at the office/a public place - that is routine procedure to protect ourselves, but we will not ask your for your social security number. 

Posted by



ANDREA BEDARD, M.A. ~ THOMPSON COMPANY, REALTORS ~ 

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Thompson Company, REALTORS

16910 Oak Hill Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20905
o: (301) 384-9177 c: (240)593-2860

andreabedard.re@gmail.com

Andrea is a REALTOR® based in Silver Spring, MD, who has enjoyed assisting buyers and sellers in Montgomery and Howard County, MD (and beyond) for 15+ years now. She always answers the phone with a smile, enjoys running, hiking, and traveling, speaks German, reads a lot, blogs a little, and drinks too much coffee. 

 

Ready to fall in love? Then let's get started on writing your personal digital Real Estate story. Join Andrea on the very best, responsive, intelligent, and collaborative home search there is, powered by the MLS. Just click here to begin!

 

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All photographs are my own and I'd like to keep it that way.
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how to identify a scam call
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Rainmaker
1,759,951
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

I got a call from "SSA" and I decided to have some fun with the guy at his expense - he got so angry that he cursed me out!  Must say I was rather startled by that

Jan 27, 2020 07:19 PM #1
Rainmaker
731,770
Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI
HomeSmart Real Estate - Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona Homes and Land Group/ Buy or Sell

Good tips Andrea Bedard. I hear there is a non partisan bill going through Congress requiring phone carriers to eliminate the auto dialer with phony area codes. The technology is evidently there right now to do this. I hope it works.

Jan 27, 2020 08:36 PM #2
Rainmaker
183,814
Eva B. Liland Century 21 Doug Anderson
Century 21 Doug Anderson - Lancaster, CA
Glad to be of Service 661-714-1643

I got the SS# calls all the time.What's worse to me is when they scam text you. Talk about invasion of privacy! Lately I have received a text message saying your package have arrived. I almost fell for that one...

Jan 27, 2020 08:43 PM #3
Ambassador
3,109,351
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

I think I have received every single scam caller...SSA, help with my computer, do not hang up, emails that say your settlement sheet is attached, etc, etc. Hang up, delete and don't worry. Those important callers will leave a message. Good timely post-Andrea Bedard 

Jan 27, 2020 08:55 PM #4
Rainmaker
3,310,106
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Andrea... like Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland I think I've received and continue to receive ever type of spam call imaginable. And once I had no choice but to take my social security, those calls from SSA suddently ramped up. I've learned to recognize these calls and block, block, block.

Jan 28, 2020 04:06 AM #5
Rainmaker
5,212,198
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Good morning, Andrea Bedard I hate when I answer the phone and there's a delay.... I hang up immediately....

Jan 28, 2020 05:12 AM #6
Rainmaker
3,503,298
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Andrea - Annoying?  Definitely.  And along with the spoofing and spam texts, the issue can be quite frustrating.  Your advice won't make the issue disappear but does serve as a reminder of what can be done not to be fooled.  

Jan 28, 2020 05:44 AM #7
Rainmaker
750,819
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

I've had some fun with some of these twits, too, Lise Howe - it did work, they left me alone after that! It is rather time consuming to do it with all of them though.. hanging up is still the quickest response. 

Jan 28, 2020 06:43 AM #8
Rainmaker
750,819
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

Thank you for the heads-up Jeff Masich-Scottsdale AZ Associate Broker,MBA,GRI , I need to read up on that. It would be a great service if the technology can be put to good use. I had a scam call blocker but then discovered that I also had missed some important calls and/or received voicemails with - at times - days delay. That's just not good - so I had to opt out and deal with more scammers again. 

Jan 28, 2020 06:46 AM #9
Rainmaker
750,819
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

Some of these texts, emails etc. look so legit at first glance Eva B. Liland Century 21 Doug Anderson. Glad you only almost fell for it. My dad wasn't so lucky once.. it was a nightmare sorting it all out, and getting money back (we succeeded eventually). 

Jan 28, 2020 06:49 AM #10
Rainmaker
750,819
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

I often won't answer anymore when I don't recognize a number Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, hoping/assuming that the important ones will leave a message. When I do answer, I almost always regret it! 

Last summer there were very persistent ones, calling to speak with Mr. Thompson who passed away years ago. I didn't tell them but asked for their VISA instead since I charge $350 an hour to provide information   What do you know, they hung up on me! 

Jan 28, 2020 06:53 AM #11
Rainmaker
750,819
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

I've blocked quite a few numbers myself Nina Hollander but do wonder, what if these numbers are spoofed? Who am I actually blocking from being able to contact me? 

Jan 28, 2020 06:55 AM #12
Rainmaker
750,819
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

It is so annoying Barbara Todaro

I wish there was a way to stop it once and for all Michael Jacobs. There's a glimmer of hope, please see Jeff Masich's comment. My dad fell victim to one involving Google once when it was rather new. He lost quite a bit of money but we were able to resolve it and get it back. Such a time suck dealing with it all, and so very frustrating!   

Jan 28, 2020 06:58 AM #13
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