Look Out For Fake Government Emails

CHICAGO, IL- September 16, 2014 – Scammers are sending emails claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, Service Canada and other organizations. These emails say that you’re eligible for a new benefit and need to complete an online form to apply, asking you to provide personal information. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) urges people to be cautious of suspicious emails and to never give personal information to anyone saying they work for the government.

“People often get scared when they receive emails saying it’s the government and want to respond,” says Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Remember, the government never contacts people via phone or email; so never give away bank account numbers, your social security numbers or your personal address.”

In this latest scam, when the form is completed, a confirmation page promises that your case will be reviewed and a government agent will contact you. But this isn’t the case — scammers use your information to commit identity theft, possibly redirecting your benefits to an account controlled by a thief.

Be aware of other variations of this scam. For example, scammers also call residents and ask for personal information over the phone. Other email versions use a slightly different scenario, such as asking you to update or verify account information.

Here are some ways to spot and avoid these types of scams:

• Be skeptical of email. The government typically doesn’t call, text or email. Government agencies normally communicate through the mail, so be very cautious of any unsolicited calls, text messages or emails you receive.

• The government should already know your basic information. If a government agency is contacting you about your benefits, they should already know your basic information such as name, address and government ID number.

• Pick up the phone. If you receive a suspicious call or email, call the local government agency to check its legitimacy. Look for the phone number on previous correspondence or the official website. Don’t call a number in the email.

• As always, don’t click on links or download attachments in suspicious emails. When in doubt, call the agency to confirm the email first.

For more tips, visit www.bbb.org, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices. The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2013, the BBB provided more than 22,600,000 instances of service. Over 80 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.