A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

AG Office warns of Social Security scam after Lexington woman loses $30k over fake IRS debt

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A Fayette County woman has lost $30,000 to a Social Security scam, prompting Attorney General Andy Beshear to issue a Scam Alert.

According to the Attorney General’s office, the suspended social security scam, which usually includes the scammer asking for confirmation of a social security number, has been reported nearly 90 times in 36 counties this year.

After getting phone calls from someone pretending to be an “internal revenue security officer” last week, a victim in Fayette County wired $30,000 to a bank in Chicago to allegedly clear up a “suspended” Social Security number issue.

The victim believed she was paying an outstanding debt to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to avoid jail.

Beshear said once the victim realized something was not right, it was too late to stop the transfer.

“The victim has now taken the proper steps by contacting my office for assistance, filing a police report and working with her bank to try and recover the funds,” he said. “I just want to take time to remind every Kentuckian to hang up on anyone who calls and asks for your Social Security number – it is scam.”

He reminds Kentuckians that a federal government employee will never suspend your Social Security number or demand you wire money over the phone.

Beshear said while the Federal Trade Commission indicates that over the past year and a half $19 million in losses have been reported from Social Security scam victims, the Fayette County report was the first loss reported this year in Kentucky to his office.

To further avoid the scam, the Attorney General’s office warns Kentuckians:

• Never trust a caller ID, as scammers use technology to “spoof” valid phone numbers.

• Always verify any suspicious call by hanging up and contacting the real Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or the real IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

• Report scams to the Office of the Attorney General at 888-432-9257 or via an online complaint form.

Anyone who believes their personal and financial information has been compromised should follow guidance provided by the Federal Trade Commission at identitytheft.gov.

Last year, Beshear urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt rules that allow phone companies to use new technology to block illegal robocalls. In June, the FCC voted unanimously to let phone companies join the fight. Before this change, companies were required by law to complete known scam calls and now they can legally block them before they ever reach your phone.

Beshear has long supported the FCC’s actions to encourage and require service providers to implement a caller ID authentication framework.

Some carriers are already helping by identifying a call as “scam likely” or “scam call.”

Earlier this year, his office took part in a national sweep with the Federal Trade Commission and other states that cracked down on nearly 100 illegal call operations, which were responsible for more than a billion illegal scam calls.

In August, Beshear announced his office was doubling down its successful efforts with phone companies to stop scam calls by urging the FCC to compel more phone companies to join the fight.

Beshear said Kentuckians wanting to block scam calls should contact their phone carriers or internet service providers to ask about call-blocking technology.

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One Comment

  1. Marianne Brown says:

    People should be very familiar with how these IRS scammers work by now. They have been around using this trick for years. You can read and watch the warnings anywhere from news sites until television. I have just Googled up about it and easily found some reports filed at whycall.me/332-331-8595.html since few months ago about these scams.

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