Elderly woman enrages scammer seeking her SSN

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

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An 80-year-old Salmon Creek woman said would-be scammers used high-pressure tactics Thursday morning in trying to convince her they could reduce her credit card interest rate.

But she refused and left them fuming.

“They said they could reduce the interest by 50 percent,” she said. “They said, ‘We’re legitimate. We’re here to help you.’”

It’s a scam that’s been reported before, and this caller wanted the woman’s Social Security number.

She said she’d taken a sedative before the phone rang, and may have been easier to convince.

But she said she refused and the caller hung up, but later called back, still demanding her Social Security number.

“I said, ‘Who pays you?’ and he said, ‘You pay a $995 fee, but it would save you $2,000.’”

She said she told the caller to stay on the line while she called her credit union.

“They got angry and said, ‘You go ahead!’”

In the end, she said, she did not give up her Social Security number.

Folks should guard that number like gold, officials say, as well as other personal information such as birth dates and credit card numbers.

Besides collecting such personal information to use for ID theft themselves, officials say, scammers also buy and sell collections of folks’ stolen data on websites.

It’s also good to know that the first four numbers on your credit cards just identify the company that issued the card, so plenty of people have the same first four numbers on their card. Scam callers can recite your first four numbers in trying to convince you they know the whole series and are, therefore, legit employees.

Many scammers send out thousands of email “notifications” that something is wrong with your account and you need to tell them your account number. But if they were honest employees of your bank, they would already know your account number.