There’s no excuse to fall for NJ’s latest scam (Opinion)
Go take a nap grandparent scam. Take a hike IRS scam. There's a new kid in town.
New Jersey State Police are issuing warnings about a Social Security number scam using spoofing. First, what is spoofing? It's a way scammers change the phone number that appears on your caller ID to make it appear as another number entirely. Now if you didn't know that, perhaps you shouldn't be trusted with a phone. It's 2019 for crying out loud. In this case, scam artists through spoofing make it appear their call emanates from 609-452-2601 which is a bona fide State Police phone number for one of their divisions. That's not where the calls are coming from, despite what the scammer tells you. They are actually coming from out of state if not out of the country.
Once they have convinced you they are with the NJ State Police, they go on to explain they have been getting complaints associated with your Social Security number. They tell you they have mailed you documents several times and received no response. They will sound legitimate, even reading off your full name and address. They say they need to verify your identity and request your Social Security number.
Of course, if you give it, it's like handing someone the skeleton key to your very life. One can open accounts in your name and do all manner of damage.
"The New Jersey State Police will never call you requesting personal information like your Social Security number or your date of birth. We will never threaten citizens with arrest if personal information or money is not provided," the real NJ State Police say.
What should you do if you receive this call? Hang up. Immediately. And report the call to your local or state police. You know, the real ones.
Yet people don't.
Many scams rely on the victim's own greed. The Nigerian email scam where they have millions of dollars they will share with you if you could help them get it out of their country, or the lottery ticket scam. Even the "high end" speakers being sold out of the white van is based on greed. When greed isn't the motivation, it's protection or panic, as with the grandparent scam victim trying to protect their grandchild or the person who thinks the IRS is going to arrest them within the hour.
But let's get real folks. We're from Jersey. We grew up hearing about Abscam and witnessing one mayor of Newark after another falling to indictments. We are supposed to know corruption. We are supposed to be cynical. In short, we're supposed to be smarter than this. When someone calls from the IRS with a thick foreign accent yet says their name is Robert Smith, you need to be smarter than this. When the grandparent scammer demands payment in the form of Best Buy gift cards, you need to be smarter than this. And when someone calls claiming to be from the New Jersey State Police and asks for your Social Security number, you're supposed to have red flags go up. If the phone number spoofing lures you, be smart enough to hang up and call that number right back. When I've gotten phone calls from the fraud department of credit cards, I don't take their word for it. I hang up and call them back and make sure the number is the same on my card.
I'm not quite victim blaming here. These scam artists are scum who should be lined up at a cliff. But for crying out loud New Jersey, come on, stop and think! You're better than that!
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