(CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a new spin on an old scam that has hit more than 76,000 people nationwide, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Everyone has heard of the IRS phone scam, but now con artists have increasingly started to pose as employees with the Social Security Administration.
Ronald Leamer will be the first to tell you he messed up.
“That got my heart racing and I was dumb enough to give him my number,” said the Fort Worth resident.
This week, Leamer received a call from someone who claimed he worked for the Social Security Administration.
He even provided a badge number. The caller said Leamer’s social security number was at risk of getting suspended.
“He says there’s been a warrant for your arrest, and I needed your social security number,” Leamer said.
Panicking, Leamer provided the nine digits. But when he realized the call was a hoax, the scammer instantly hung up.
“I feel pretty bad I felt like I was a victim and it really makes you feel terrible,” Leamer said. “Like you’re worthless”
Leamer is far from alone.
The FTC has received 76,000 complaints about the ruse.
In many ways, the Social Security fake call mirrors the IRS scam that started circulating several years ago.
The FTC says that scam raked in $17 million in its peak year. The Social Security call scam is already up to $19 million for the year ending March 31.
“Here what we have are scammers who have decided that it is too recognizable to pretend to be the IRS anymore,” said Monica Vaca with the FTC. “They know that they can’t get away with that anymore so they’ve come up with a new angle, a new twist.”
For now, Leamer said no one has stolen his identity or his money. But he knows someone, somewhere, still has his number.
“He’s out there trying to use this in a criminal way and it’s totally wrong,” Leamer said.
Never give your social security number over the phone. Now, the FTC is warning to avoid trusting your caller ID, too. Scam artists can spoof a number to make it look like they are calling from a government office.