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New York State Division of Consumer Protection issues alert

Fri, Sep 6th 2019 03:30 pm

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is alerting consumers of an increase in phone scammers purporting to be from official state agencies attempting to steal personal information from unsuspecting victims.

Similar to a Social Security scam detailed in June, in these cases the caller “spoofs” official phone numbers of state agencies and calls individuals seeking information that could be used to steal identities. Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to a caller ID display to disguise their identity, according to the Federal Communications Commission. In actuality, the call could be coming from anywhere in the world.

Recently, several individuals have received phone calls from what appears to be a primary phone number for the New York State Offices of the Inspector General (212-635-3150). The Inspector General’s Office is working with law enforcement to investigate the matter. The Offices of the Inspector General advises that it does NOT make calls from this number. Anyone who receives a call from 212-635-3150 should disregard the call.

“As we see too often, scam artists are pretending to be from official state agencies in an attempt to gain personal information from unsuspecting New Yorkers” said New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the Division of Consumer Protection. “Government agencies do not typically call people with little or no warning asking for sensitive information or trying to get a payment over the phone. If it seems suspicious, it probably is. Look for the warning signs and verify the caller before engaging.”

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection and the Federal Communications Commission warn consumers to be suspicious of any unsolicited calls purporting to be from a state agency, such as the Inspector General, and to take note of the following tips:

If an individual receives an inquiry from someone who says they represent a government agency, the individual should hang up and call the phone number on the government agency’s website to verify its authenticity. Individuals will normally receive a written statement in the mail before getting a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.

Individuals should not answer calls from unknown numbers. If they answer such a call, they should hang up immediately. If a consumer answers and the caller – or a recording – asks them to press a button to stop getting the calls, they should just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.

Consumers may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Call recipients should be extremely careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information. Consumers should not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.” Consumers should exercise caution if they are being pressured for information immediately.

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