HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane’s office recently warned Pennsylvanians of a new “phishing” email scam in which scammers have misrepresented themselves as being affiliated with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The Federal Trade Commission recently reported these emails are allegedly sent with the subject line “Get Protected.” When opened, the emails state the SSA is offering new features to help taxpayers protect their personal identification with a link to an outside website. Recipients who click this link are then vulnerable to viruses and spyware, according to the FTC.
The link may also take consumers to a website designed to look like the one managed by the SSA. Scammers may ask for bank account numbers, Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information. At this time, the SSA is not offering such a program.
The Attorney General’s office annually receives complaints regarding various “phishing scams,” which are designed to procure sensitive information for malicious reasons. The FTC and the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection offer the following advice for consumers:
If you get a questionable email, do not click on any links. Instead, report it to the Federal Trade Commission by forwarding it to email@example.com .
Unsure about whether it’s for real? Here are a couple clues: “hover” your cursor over the address link in the email; if it’s fake, you’ll see that the address is an unrelated .com address, not the .gov address it appears to be. And did it end up in your junk folder? If so, that’s because your email filters recognized that it wasn’t for real.
If you’re unsure if an email is coming from the government, call them yourself. But use an email address you find yourself, not the contact info listed in the email.
Consumers with questions or who feel they have been victimized by email scams may file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov . The Bureau is also available by phone at 800-441-2555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .