Application security

Phishing scam uses Social Security ploy

Federal officials are warning Social Security beneficiaries not to fall victim to a phishing scam.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has received numerous reports of fake email messages about a "Cost-of-Living 2007 Update," claiming to have details of a 3.3-percent benefit increase to take place next year.

Fraudsters try to get recipients to visit a fraudulent website that asks them to register for a password by providing a Social Security number and bank account and credit card information.

"Note: We now need you to update your personal information," reads the bogus email. "If this is not completed by Nov. 11, 2006, we will be forced to suspend your account indefinitely."

SSA Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart said she has asked agency officials to investigate.

"I am outraged that someone would target an unsuspecting public in this manner," she said. "I have asked the inspector general to use all the resources at his command to find and prosecute whoever is perpetrating this fraud."

SSA Inspector General Patrick O'Carroll advised caution in giving out personal information.

"You should never provide your Social Security number or other personal information over the internet or by telephone unless you are extremely confident of the source to whom you are providing the information," he said.

The SSA asked recipients of the fraudulent email to call the inspector general's office at 1-800-269-0271 or to fill out a reporting form on agency's website.

Click here to email Frank Washkuch Jr.

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