Social Security Administration scam alert, am I really getting more spam, and am I being too paranoid?

Is the email I just received from the Social Security Administration a scam – and other subscriber questions: Internet ScamBusters #208

Today we’ve got another subscriber Q&A issue for you. We’ll answer these questions:

  • Is the email I just received from the Social Security Administration a scam?
  • Is it my imagination or am I really getting a lot more spam recently?
  • Am I being too paranoid?

We especially recommend you check out the first question — it includes info about a new Social Security Administration scam alert.

In addition, we thought you might enjoy a news article from last week that quotes Audri, called “Victims Still Falling Prey to Nigerian E-Mail Scam.”

Let’s get started…

Internet ScamBusters Q&A

Question: I’m a senior and got an email yesterday from the Social Security Administration that says if I don’t respond by tomorrow, I’ll stop receiving Social Security! Is this a scam??

Answer: Yes, it’s a scam. In November, the Social Security Administration issued a security alert about a new phishing scam aimed at seniors.

The subject line of this supposed Social Security Administration email is: Cost-of-Living for 2007 update.

The email claims its purpose is to inform Social Security recipients about the 3.3% Social Security benefit increase for 2007. It also contains the following statement:

“NOTE: We now need you to update your personal information. If this is not completed by [a date close to today’s date], we will be forced to suspend your account indefinitely.”

The recipient is then directed to a bogus phishing website that is designed to look like the Social Security Administration’s website.

At the phishing website, victims are asked to create a password and to confirm their identity by providing their Social Security number, credit card information and bank account information.

Action: Delete the email. Do NOT visit the website. Recognize that the Social Security Administration does not send out emails that require you to give out your personal information, nor do they use scare tactics and short deadlines via email to pressure you to update your account.

For more information, you can see the Social Security Administration News Release about this scam alert.

To learn more about phishing scams, click here.

Question: It seems as if I’m getting a whole lot more spam in the past month or so. Is this my imagination, or is the spam problem getting worse?

Answer: Unfortunately, it’s not your imagination. In November, there was a dramatic increase in the amount of spam coming out of Russia.

In fact, Russian spammers are now using 70,000 infected machines capable of pumping out a billion messages a day! Many of these emails are “pump and dump” scams hawking penny stocks.

We’ve personally seen an enormous amount of additional spam in the past month — and our spam filters are working double duty just to keep up. It’s VERY frustrating. For more info, visit this eWeek article.

Question: I sell handcrafted merchandise online. i recently received an order for $1800 worth of drums. The customer said he had a customer who owed him $5000. A $5000 check was going to be sent to me so I could take out the $1800 for the drums and I was to send the remaining $3200 on to a shipper who would pick up the drums when I was finished making them. I refused, he tried to convince me, I ended up declining the order. Am I being too paranoid?

Answer: You are NOT being too paranoid at all. This is a classic scam called the “overpayment” scam. You can read more about the overpayment scam here.

Time to wrap up for today — have a great week!