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SCAM ALERT

Beshear: Victim Reports $30,000 Lost to Social Security Scam

Federal employees won't suspend your Social Security number, demand you wire money

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 3, 2019) – After a Fayette County woman lost $30,000 to the Social Security number scam, Attorney General Andy Beshear has issued a scam alert to remind Kentuckians that a federal government employee will never suspend your Social Security number or demand you wire money over the phone.

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," Beshear 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."

The suspended Social Security number scam, which usually includes a scammer asking for confirmation of a Social Security number, is a reoccurring scam that has been reported nearly 90 times in 36 counties this year. In March, Beshear issued a Scam Alert to warn of the same widespread scam.

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, Beshear's office wants Kentuckians to:

  • 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.

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

One of Beshear's top priorities as attorney general has been to protect Kentuckians, especially seniors, from scam phone calls.

Last year, Beshear urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 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, Beshear's office was also part of a national sweep with the Federal Trade Commission and other states that cracked down on nearly 100 illegal call operations. These operations 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.

Kentuckians can also avoid falling victim to scams by signing up to receive alerts about new and trending scams from the Office of the Attorney General by texting the words KYOAG SCAM to GOV-311 or visiting ag.ky.gov/scams.

When Kentuckians do fall victim to scams and bad business deals, Beshear's office takes action to help them recover losses. To date, the office has returned more than $2.5 million at a rate of $3,145 returned per day in 2019.

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