Central Indiana woman among thousands targeted in popular social security scam

PERU, Ind. – A popular scam that continues to target Hoosiers aims to get your social security number and your money.

For the past week, Lacey Knight has been on high alert, because of the call she received last Monday. She even asked her kids to put an app on her phone that spots scam calls.

"They got very angry, very aggressive over the phone," Knight said of the scammers.

The scammer, who called from an out-of-state number to Knight's cell phone, claimed to work for the Social Security Administration and told Knight that she was being investigated for fraud. She threatened to arrest Knight if she didn't comply.

"They wanted my social security number, they wanted my address, they wanted everything from me," Knight said.

Luckily, Knight didn't give out any of her information. She contacted CBS4 because she wanted to keep someone else from falling victim.

"Somebody is going to fall for that, and somebody is going to lose their life savings," Knight said.

Shortly after Knight received the call, the Federal Trade Commission put out its own warning for this social security scam. The agency said that since January of 2018, it has received 63,000 reports of the scam, and while only 3 percent of people who reported it lost money, most of them lost quite a bit, about $1,500.

Patti Poss, an attorney with the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the scammers can even spoof the real number of the SSA, 1-800-772-1213. She warned that if you get a call from that number, you should not pick up the phone. Instead, you can call the number back to get to the real office. CBS4 called that number and found that it includes a warning about the scam calls.

"The Social Security department is not going to call consumers out of the wild blue, (and) they’re not going to demand money," Poss said.

Poss and Knight both said they hoped to spread the word to more people about the scam. You may get a call from either an automated voice or a real person, and their message can be slightly different. You should keep in mind that you should never give your social security number over the phone, and never pay someone who calls you in gift cards or money orders- those are obvious signs of a scam.

"There's no reason to let these people win and steal everything you have saved," Knight said.

If you do receive a scam call, report it to the FTC at the link here. If you give your information to someone over the phone, you can go to identitytheft.gov for more information about what to do to protect your identity.

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