Police warn of phone phishing scam

Scammers are posing as members of the Social Security Administration.

Alaska police departments have received numerous complaints about a Social Security scam wending its way through the 907 phone exchanges.

“It’s definitely going around statewide. We’ve heard from several people in the area,” said Homer Police Chief Mark Robl.

In Juneau, the Juneau Police Department warns residents to watch out for calls from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, a police spokesperson said.

The calls employ emotionally loaded statements to attempt to get personal information, which the scammers will use to commit fraud, said JPD public safety manager Erann Kalwara in a news release.

“Some of these calls contained very alarming statements,” Kalwara said. “Some call recipients were told their Social Security number was implicated in serious crimes including murder and drug trafficking or that vehicles registered to them have been found with drugs in them.”

The scammers will use technology to disguise their point of origin, making it appear they’re calling from local numbers, even though this is not the case, Kalwara said.

“For the safety of your information, we recommend you never provide personal information unless you know with certainty you are talking to a trusted entity. Most government and banking entities will not initiate contact by phone,” Kalwara said. “If you receive suspicious calls, we recommend you hang up without providing any information. After hanging up, you can call the named organization at their published phone number if you think it might be a real call.”

Robl retiterated that advice.

“We highly, highly recommend against anyone giving any person information like that (Social Security numbers) over the phone for anything.” he said.

Robl said one person reported giving out their Social Security number. So far it doesn’t look like any identity theft has happened, but police are working with the victim to mitigate damage, he said.

The Social Security Administration has frequently asked questions for dealing with fraud on their website at https://faq.ssa.gov/en-us/Topic/article/KA-10018, Kalwara said. If a scam leads to loss of funds or monies, Kalwara said, the victim of the scam should contact the JPD immediately at www.juneaupolice.com.

Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com. Homer News reporter Michael Armstrong contributed to this story.