CHICAGO, Feb. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As if getting aggressive and fake calls from the IRS or credit card companies wasn't enough to be on the lookout for, consumers also need to be wary of fake emails claiming to be from the Social Security Administration as they contain malware just waiting to infect their computers. Recently the Federal Trade Commission caught on to this new scam and with the help of AARP Fraud Watch Network is warning people to be aware and help stop fraudsters.
"Being aware of all the scams circulating these days seems overwhelming," said AARP Illinois Communications Manager, Gerardo Cardenas. "It really feels as if a new scam is announced every week, but having this information and knowing what to be aware of is critical to keep yourself, your hard-earned money, and your identity safe."
The scam comes in the form of an email seeming to be sent from the Social Security Administration with the subject line "Get Protected." It appears as if the SSA is offering exciting new features for consumers to monitor their credit and learn whether someone is engaging in unauthorized use of their Social Security. The email looks and sounds official; some of them even include mention of the "SAFE Act of 2015." Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?
However, the SSA is not offering any kind of program and what you are being sent is referred to as a "phishing" email designed to get you to click on the link. Doing so can cause malware to be installed on the computer contaminating it with viruses and spyware. Or it could take you to a "spoof" site designed to look like the SSA's website requesting you provide personal information like your Social Security number and bank or credit account information.
Should you find an email in your inbox you think might be suspicious:
- DO NOT click on any links. Report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission by forwarding it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To decide if it's real "hover" your cursor over the address link. If it's fake you'll see that the address is an unrelated .com address, not the .gov address it appears to be.
- If it ended up in your junk folder, it's because your email filters recognized the email wasn't authentic.
- If you're unsure of whether the email is coming from the government, call them yourself. But use an email address you find yourself, not the contact info listed in the email. Otherwise you'll be redirected back to the scammer and they'll attempt to convince you everything in the email is real.
In 2014, AARP launched the Fraud Watch Network to arm Americans with the tools and resources they need to spot and avoid scams and identity theft. But scammers are still out there, making every attempt possible to cheat consumers out of their hard-earned money. The public can sign up for free to receive Fraud Watch Network alerts and more at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.
SOURCE AARP Illinois