HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith has been warning seniors of a rash of telephone scams that have cost local residents tens of thousands of dollars in recent months.
The latest Hiawassee victim fell prey to whom she believed was a representative from the Social Security Administration (SSA). According to Chief Smith, the caller convinced the senior that she was eligible for increased government benefits, and that personal information was necessary to begin the process. When all was said and done, the victim was drained in excess of $900, her funds transferred to a bank in Iowa. Fortunately, in this particular instance, the senior was reimbursed by her financial institute, but others aren’t always as lucky.
Smith cautioned that personal information should never be offered via telephone. “They’re not going to call you and ask for information they should already have,” the police chief explained.
Smith relayed that Caller ID cannot be trusted, as there are simple ways for thieves to skirt the system. Smith advised hanging up on suspicious callers, and dialing a known number in order to contact the agency in question. “That way you know that you’re talking to a legitimate person,” Smith said.
Smith referred to the scammers as professional criminals, adding, “These people are really good at what they do.”
Hiawassee Police Department states that there is a “good lead” on the suspect involved in the SSA scam.