Because government-related scam calls and texts are only getting worse.
Americans’ phones are increasingly bombarded by scammers and other impersonators who pretend to be federal employees and subsequently mislead victims into forking over their money or sensitive personal information.
As one of the agencies that is frequently imitated, the Social Security Administration’s Inspector General officially designated March 5 as National “Slam the Scam” Day to help curb the problem. SSA’s campaign includes online resources and a series of social media events to help the public become better equipped to combat the scams.
“Awareness is our best hope to thwart the scammers,” SSA Inspector General Gail Ennis said in the initial announcement of the campaign. “Tell your friends and family about these scams and report them to us when you receive them, but most importantly, just hang up and ignore the calls.”
Over the last year, government-related scam calls have become more pervasive. In July, the Federal Trade Commission revealed that it received more complaints about scammers impersonating the government in the spring of 2019 than ever before, and the agency later reported that victims lost nearly $153 million to government imposter scams over the course of that entire year. SSA recently noted that Social Security-related scams “have skyrocketed over the past year to become the number one type of consumer fraud” reported to both it and the FTC. And earlier this month, the SSA’s IG also launched a fraud advisory that malicious actors are becoming even more technically savvy as they are now also targeting unsuspecting victims with “widespread” government-related scams via unsolicited text messages.
In an effort to “slam” all those scams on the new designated day, the agency announced that AARP on Thursday morning released a consumer protection-focused webinar with messages from the FTC, SSA, Medicare, IRS and the Census Bureau regarding how to recognize and report such scams. SSA is also encouraging Twitter users to tweet about phone scams using the hashtag #SlamTheScam. Also on Twitter, the agency joined @USAgov Thursday morning for a chat on the topic and it’ll host a similar talk in Spanish with @USAgovespanol in the early afternoon. Thursday evening SSA will also hold a Facebook Live event to answer the public’s questions and further spread the message.
If people do receive suspicious calls or texts, the agency said it’s imperative to hang up, never share any personal or financial information and immediately report the scam online.
The Slam the Scam initiative is part of National Consumer Protection Week.