(KGPE) TULARE, Calif. – The Central Valley has been hit by a social security scam.
It begins with a letter instructing you to contact the Social Security Administration, but the call is forwarded to an alleged scammer.
Three days after applying for retirement, a Tulare man received a notice in the mail from what appeared to be the Social Security Administration. Despite the fact that the timing of its arrival made it seem so genuine, it turned out to be from a suspected scammer. Paul Niemera of Tulare has only recently begun his retirement years, and it has begun in the most terrifying way possible.
An alleged con artist threatened his retirement.”It appeared that I had been duped,” Niemera said. “They were after my information, and this is my only source of income for the foreseeable future, so it’s critical to me.”Niemera had applied for his Social Security retirement benefits via the internet.
“We will contact you by telephone or mail with any updates or questions we may have about your information,” they tell Niemera. “You will receive your activation code at the address you provided us within 5-10 business days,” said another automated message.
A letter arrives at Niemera’s address three days later.
‘Social Security Administration’ signs the letter. Blair Looney, President of the Central California Better Business Bureau, says, “That’s a horrible red flag; it’s not even a signature; it looks rubberstamped on there.”
Niemera’s letter was forwarded to the local BBB. “This piece is in a manila envelope with a window, which is very substandard for any government communication,” Looney explained. Niemera wasn’t looking for red flags that indicated a scam because she had been told to expect something in the mail from Social Security.
Niemera dialed the phone number listed on the letter.
“They started talking about everything,” Niemera said, referring to family, weather, and other topics. The call then went on to ask Niemera to confirm personal information such as her social security number and date of birth.
“After the event, I gave them some information, and that’s when I started getting scared,” Niemera said. When Niemera’s friend overheard the phone conversation, he realised something wasn’t quite right. “They were attempting to obtain my card and the bank account into which the money would be deposited,” Niemera explained.
Christine Harrison said, “I took the phone and hung up and said no, it’s a scam.” Niemera was terrified.
What if his retirement was in jeopardy now?
“I just didn’t think it would happen to us,” Harrison said, “and it felt pretty bad.” “Paul was crying, trembling, and wondering what these people were going to do.” After a few days, Paul received the letter from the Social Security Administration that he had been waiting for. “They’re going to go after it anywhere there’s money coming through in any way,” Niemera said. “The thievery has only recently reached that level.”
If you’re not sure if a call or letter from social security is legitimate, call 1-800-772-1213 or report scams to the Office of the Inspector General’s website. If you believe you have been scammed, the Better Business Bureau can assist you with your questions.
“Protect your money, retirement, and disability benefits; you worked hard for them,” Harrison advised. “Don’t let anyone else have it.” They’re tampering with people’s livelihoods.”