Yesterday, KAKE News in Wichita, Kansas reported a new twist on the old Social Security phone phishing scam.
Kansas resident Justin H. Kelley contacted the Better Business Bureau after receiving an alarming phone call from someone claiming to be a Social Security agent.
What he heard next would have made anyone’s jaw hit the floor.
According to this “agent,” a rental car was located somewhere in Texas containing a large amount of cocaine and blood. Upon examining the rental agreement, it was found Kelley’s Social Security number had been used to rent the vehicle.
Naturally, law enforcement had a few questions for Kelley. The caller told him federal and local police as well as US Marshals were on the way to his home to speak with him.
Initially, Kelley says he was taken in–as he said, “[the caller] had one hell of a story.” Parts of it he even found very plausible given his profession requiring him to rent cars for travel.
But before getting carried away completely, he noted some strange inconsistencies with the story. For example, the “agent” called on a holiday when Social Security offices would have been closed.
Thanks to Kelley’s quick thinking and attention to detail, he dodged a scam artist.
The object of this scam was most likely to tell a story so fantastic and intimidating (nothing will make you volunteer personal information faster than thinking federal agents are on the way to your house to arrest you) that a victim would totally ignore everything they’ve ever learned about not handing out their information, and tell the scammer everything he wanted to know–including a full Social Security number.
It’s worth noting that in this case, the scammer may have played his cards a little low–we’ve never heard of a car rental agreement asking for your SSN. It seems pretty suspect that a Social Security agent would be involved in this scenario at all.
And for that matter, in a case where a serious crime may have been committed…why would a Social Security agent call and not the police…?
While this is far and beyond one of the wildest phone scam techniques we’ve ever heard, Denise Groene, state director at the BBB, says all of these phone scams, from the most commonplace to the truly bizarre, have a common denominator:
“The more you divulge, the more they tend to ask. So, these scammers like to use these phishing techniques because sometimes they just need one piece of your information to put the whole puzzle together.”
It just goes to show, no matter what someone may tell you or how dire it may seem, you always have the right–and should absolutely invoke the right–to verify the identity of someone asking for your information.
And as always, if you receive a call like this, report it to your local authorities or the Social Security Administration.