Law & Justice

One Simple Step Can Guard Against a New Phone Scam

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UNION COUNTY, NJ -- There is no summer vacation for phone fraud, and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders advises residents to be aware of a new scam circulating around the country.

“The Social Security Administration has issued a warning about a caller who poses as an employee in order to extract social security numbers and other personal information,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “There is one simple way to guard against becoming a victim: never give out personal information, unless the caller’s identity and place of work can be verified.”

According to the Social Security Administration, when its employees make contact by phone it is mainly for customer service purposes, not to request personal information.

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Social Security employees may ask for confirmation of personal information in rare instances. Residents can easily verify if the call is legitimate by contacting the Social Security customer service office toll free at 800-772-1213. Residents using TTY can call 800-325-0778.

The wave of fraudulent phone calls surfaced earlier this summer. It involves a caller who claims to be a Social Security employee, and asks the victim to verify all of their personal information including their name, date of birth, Social Security number and parents’ names.

Sometimes the caller claims to need the information to process a cost of living increase for the victim.

“Residents who receive a call like this or any other suspicious call from someone who claims to be a Social Security employee should report the caller to the Social Security Administration,” said Bergen. “Suspicious emails, letters and text messages should also be reported promptly.”

Residents can also use their cell phones, or Caller ID on their land lines, to screen numbers that are unfamiliar.

Suspected Social Security fraud can be reported to the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration at 800-269-0271 or online at oig.ssa.gov/report.

To report other types of fraud in Union County, residents can use the Union County Office of Consumer Affairs 24/7 online reporting service at ucnj.org/public-safety or call 908-654-9840 during regular business hours.

To help protect themselves against property and mortgage scams, property owners can sign up for an alert system at propertyfraudalert.com. More information about this service is available from the office of Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi at ucnj.org/county-clerk, or call the County Clerk at 908-527-4787.

For general information on protecting against fraud, especially scams targeting seniors, visit FightingFraud.nj.gov.

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