BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Chances are, many people in south Louisiana have gotten one of those pesky calls lately from a scammer looking to separate them from their money. A social security scam is the latest to make its rounds in the area, with a caller immediately hurling threats of jail time unless the victim pays up.
Carmen Million, president and CEO for the south central Louisiana Better Business Bureau (BBB) says it’s important that folks arm themselves against the potential money-grab. “It happens every day," said Million. “It happens more than you realize.”
Million warns a threat is the fastest way to lure folks into the trap. “Because they are afraid, it makes it easy,” she said. “It’s why the scam works is because it’s based on fear.”
In fact, scammers prey on those most vulnerable and count on fear to outweigh common sense. If they fall for it once, Million says they will likely be back for more. “If that consumer is victimized once, that scammer is going to come back and they’re going to try to drain that consumer,” she added.
There are ways to stay safe though, and the red flags are usually there if people know where to look. “The first thing we want consumers to understand is that the social security agency is never going to call you,” said Million.
Not only will agencies typically not handle something like that over the phone, but if someone was truly in danger of being arrested Million says there likely would not be a warning. “What agency’s going to call you and tell you they’re going to arrest you or they’re going to file a claim against you? I mean, they’re just going to do it,” said Million.
If anyone is on the receiving end of one of the calls, it’s best not to engage and definitely not to give out any personal banking information. If folks suspect someone is trying to pull a fast one, Million says to simply hang up and call them to investigate.
“No matter who they say they’re with, you should call the Better Business Bureau and let us investigate it,” she said. “We’ll be the neutral party and we will give you advice on how to handle it.”
As scammers get smarter with their tactics, Million says the best thing people can do is stay on their toes and remember anyone could become the next victim. “It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are. It doesn’t matter what your background is. If the situation is right and the timing is right, you could be a victim,” said Million.
Anyone who needs to contact the Better Business Bureau can find their website here.