COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — You won’t find this one on your calendar, but March 9th is Slam The Scam Day.
The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General created the initiative in 2020 to raise awareness about social security and government imposter scams.
“It’s something along the lines of, you’ll get contacted by text, by email, by phone call, and there’s always a problem with your social security number, and you need to fix that, ‘or else,'” said AJ Monaco, the special agent in charge of the Major Case Unit.
“My unit talks to victims all the time, and it’s absolutely heart wrenching,” Monaco said. “To see somebody in their 70s who’s lost $100,000 of money that they’ve earned throughout their lifetime.”
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that in 2021, consumers lost more than $442 million to social security and government imposter scams, which is why Monaco said every consumer should be educated in the “phony fundamentals” to spot and stop these scams.
“If you recognize the four basic parts of a scam, you’ll be able to avoid them,” said Monaco, calling them the Four P’s. First, the scammer pretends to be someone from a government agency, to establish credibility. Then, they say there’s a problem that has to be addressed.
“And here’s the key part, it’s pressure. You have to do it now,” said Monaco.
Usually, you have to pay in order to fix the issue.
But Monaco said if a government official needs to contact you, they’ll do so through a letter. They will not force you to act quickly.
“And the government’s also not going to ask you to pay by gift card or cashier’s check,” Monaco said. “We’ve seen people putting hundreds of thousands of dollars in a box and sending it. We’re not going to ask you to do that.”
Monaco said instead of responding to a call, text or email — hesitate. Look up the contact information and reach out yourself. Most importantly, check on your family and friends to make sure they’re aware that these scams are happening.