Fraudsters are employing a new phone scam that displays a caller ID that looks like a legitimate source, whether it’s the U.S. Social Security Administration or PSEG Long Island, officials warned Thursday.
Suffolk County officials held a news conference last week to warn people about the new scam. In addition, PSEG Long Island held an informational session to caution senior citizens, who are often the target of such scams.
Essentially, the scam bypasses people’s defenses by displaying what looks like an authentic caller ID. That can lead people to open up to a scammer, and consequently open up their accounts and finances to thieves.
“You can see how sophisticated this is, and how legitimate they seem to people,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “If someone is calling, and they seem to be a real source, do not turn over money without verifying through another source.”
Scammers are showing an evolving grasp of technology, making it more difficult to spot their hustles.
The old defense of screening calls by caller ID may not work now, Suffolk County officials said. Scammers are using spoofing software that allows them to mimic the IDs of legitimate sources.
The Suffolk County Police Department cautioned that that neither government agencies nor utility companies will ask for payment of fees, fines or bills via prepaid gift cards.
Caution and skepticism are some of the best defenses. Use a utility’s website to check whether any bill is overdue.
PSEG Long Island cautions customers to beware of emails that appear to be bills from the utility. These emails request personal information, leading to identity theft.