Suffolk Legislator Tom Donnelly is warning Suffolk County residents of a new and sophisticated type of phone scam which targets senior citizens by using “spoofing” technology that displays the actual phone number of a government department such as the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service or a utility such as PSE&G on the caller ID when, in reality, the call is coming from an unknown phone bank.
Recently, a 67-year old Melville man fell victim to such a scam, believed to be the first reported case in Suffolk County, in which the caller “alerted” him that he had become a victim of identity theft in Texas and his Social Security payments could not be released until he cleared his name. He trusted the caller because he recognized the phone number displayed and purchased over $1400 in gift cards that he provided to the scammers. He gave the gift card numbers over the phone and the money is not traceable or recoverable. He contacted the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) so that that they could get the word out and help prevent anyone else from becoming a victim.
Amongst tips provided by the SCPD to avoid becoming a victim of any scam, especially one in which communication is sent from an unknown source disguised as a source known to the receiver, always verify who you are speaking and never corroborate or provide any personal information. They added that it is imperative to be aware that you will never be asked to pay any fines or fees with gift cards.
“These scams can cause significant personal and financial damage to us or our loved ones, and it is important that we remain cautious when speaking with strangers over the phone,” Legislator Donnelly said. “If you believe you are the target or victim of a scam, get all of the information you can without providing any of yours and immediately contact the Suffolk County Police Department at 631-852-COPS, visit your local precinct or call my office at (631) 854-4433.”