CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning consumers to avoid falling prey to a scam where the caller attempts to steal personal information while claiming to represent an attorney general’s office.
This week, dozens of West Virginians have reported receiving such calls. The impostor threatens that the attorney general’s office will suspend the consumer’s Social Security benefits and/or number due to fraudulent activity.
The impostor seeks to steal the consumer’s identity by asking for his or her Social Security number for confirmation purposes, even though the impostor knowingly has nothing to compare it against.
“These calls can be very intimidating,” Morrisey said. “That’s why it is so important for everyone to take a deep breath, hang up the phone and report the call to authorities. This will protect them from handing over sensitive information to the wrong person.”
The Social Security scam is increasingly prevalent. It often relies on unsolicited phone calls and various excuses to steal Social Security numbers and other sensitive information. Impersonators often claim the consumer has a compromised Social Security number or a frozen account, which in turn, threatens his or her monthly check.
The impostors will sometimes even threaten legal action against consumers who do not comply.
Consumers should always verify any information by calling the legitimate Social Security Administration’s phone number and never make payments using wire transfer, gift cards or cash. Most government agencies and reputable companies will not seek personal information via an unsolicited phone call or email.
Additionally, consumers should be aware of spoofing tactics in which the phone number appears legitimate but is not.
Anyone receiving such a call should report the information to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General. Its fraud hotline can be reached by phone at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of fraud can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.