Firms Charging for Free Replacement Social Security Cards

Snippets issue: Replacement Social Security cards, phishing tricks and a phony neighbor in need: Internet Scambusters #734

How much should you pay for a replacement Social Security card?

Nothing; it’s free. But that doesn’t stop some websites offering to do it for $30, as we report in this week’s Snippets issue.

We also have reports on a couple of new phishing tricks, a phony neighbor in need and a fake fashion discount website.

However, before we begin, we first encourage you to take a look at this week’s most popular articles from our other sites:

Things All Teen Drivers Should Know: Teen drivers are scary so go over this list when you sit down to lecture your new driver.

Is Dried Fruit More Nutritious Than Fresh Fruit? Why or Why Not? Find out if the process of dehydration to make dried fruit causes any loss of nutrition to your favorite fruits.

Are Bank Checks Long For This Earth? Before you order that next box of bank checks, stop and read this article first!

4 Low Fat Diet Myths You Need to Avoid: These 4 low-fat diet myths will help you avoid the risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and some types of cancer.

Let’s get started…


Firms Charging for Free Replacement Social Security Cards


Online companies are charging up to $30 for replacement Social Security cards even though they’re free.

They’ve set up websites offering the service to people who lost their cards or changed their name, perhaps through marriage or divorce.

But the truth is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will do the same job for free, and all the relevant forms you need are available on the SSA.gov website.

You still have to provide the same information whether you use the SSA or a third-party site, so these sites don’t represent any significant time saving.

Plus, of course, if you opt to pay the $30, you’re also going to be handing over a lot of confidential information, including your Social Security number (SSN), to someone you don’t know.

“Some private companies not affiliated with Social Security or any other government agency charge fees for this service,” the SSA says on its website.

“However, these companies offer no advantage and you still must provide documents directly to Social Security.

“Be cautious about giving your private information, especially your Social Security number, to anyone.”

Fake Data Jobs

Bogus employers also want to get their hands on your Social Security number.

In one of the latest work-from-home scams, a supposed medical data management company based in the Arab state of Kuwait has been spamming SMS text messages offering $30 an hour for data entry workers.

Home workers who take the bait are asked for their SSN and bank account details — a sure signal of a phishing attempt for identity theft.

But that’s not all. The scammers then hit their victims with an advance fee check deposit trick, sending them a dud check for up to $4,000.

Victims are supposed to deposit the check and then wire a portion of the payment to someone who supposedly will send them a computer for the data job.

That’s money they’ll never see again but they won’t find out until after they’ve wired their own money to the scammer.

As always, we recommend never wiring money to someone you don’t know. And we urge caution about any apparently well-paid home working job — especially if there’s no interview.

Lottery Computer Crash Trick

Another new phishing trick exploits public enthusiasm for playing lotteries.

The trick is based on America’s own Mega Millions lottery and it’s particularly active when the lottery reaches big numbers.

The scammers make the safe assumption that, with a big prize, there’ll be more players than normal, so they phone people at random, saying the lottery’s computer system has been hacked.

The caller says that the victim’s details have been stolen from the lottery computers and they need them to fill out some forms.

As an extra incentive, they also hint that the victim may actually have won big time but that the details can’t be discussed until the forms have been completed.

Then they give the victim a “security code” and tell them to call another number where they’ll be told what to do next.

It’s likely — though we have no information on this yet — that victims are then also asked to make some sort of payment so they can collect their “winnings.”

This is an obvious scam but people still fall for it. As always, you should never pay money to collect supposed winnings or give personal financial information to someone you don’t know.

Neighbor in Need

Small-time scammers don’t hesitate to ask for money either.

What would you do, for instance, if someone called at your home, saying they were a new, nearby neighbor who had accidentally locked himself or herself out of the house?

The hard-luck story continues with a claim that this neighbor has called out a locksmith but he’s refusing to unlock the door unless he’s paid in cash upfront.

So, this neighbor wonders if you could advance him or her $50 or so, which they promise to repay as soon as they get into the house.

It’s a good story, isn’t it? But now we hope if anyone comes calling at your home with this tale of woe you’ll realize it’s a scam and simply tell them you have no cash in your house at the moment!

Fashion Bargain Scam

Finally, we want to warn you to be on the alert for an SMS text message that lands on your smartphone with the promise of fantastic bargains from top fashion house outlet Michael Kors.

This is yet another phishing attempt, complete with a bogus website that seems to be selling branded purses and bags for knockdown prices.

Victims simply fill their carts up, go to check out, and provide their credit cards details, complete with the security code off the back.

When they click the “Purchase” button, they’re told their card has been refused and the order is therefore canceled. So, the crooks are left with all the card info they need to score lots of bargains for themselves.

The way to avoid this scam is the obvious one. Go to michaelkors.com or the website of any other fashion outlet you’re thinking of buying from.

Never simply use an Internet address that pops up in a text message. Always look the site up independently.

Alert of the Week

More phishing. PayPal accounts are extremely active at this time of the year, but don’t worry if you get a message either reporting suspicious activity on your account or warning that your account is about to “expire” — whatever that means.

The second one is definitely a scam and the first one almost certainly is too. Don’t click links but go to PayPal.com and sign on there to check that all is well with your account.

Time to conclude for today — have a great week!