by Barracuda Labs
This week, we have seen a surge in the number of spams like the one below, promising a new Social Security Number (SSN) to victims of Identity Thef
Most people would take one look at this spam and hit the delete button, but it is worth taking a moment to understand what’s being offered.
The scam behind the spam
If you are a citizen of the United States, your SSN is a de facto personal identification number. With your name, your SSN and a few other bits of personal information, an identity thief can ruin your credit and turn your life into a nightmare.
Since a stolen SSN is at the center of the nightmare, this scam attempts to convince identity fraud victims that a new SSN will take care of their problems and that for a fee, the company – Get New SSN – will help. Calling the number in the spam connects you to a slick sounding recording and then a human operator who takes your personal information.
What really happens is that the victim of these scams is given a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), which looks just like a SSN but serves a completely different purpose. The victim uses this FEIN as if it were a SSN without realizing that they are committing fraud. What’s more, by using the FEIN in place of their real SSN, they are doing permanent harm to their Social Security record since income earned when using an FEIN is not eligible for Social Security reporting.
The Social Security Administration issues new numbers only in the event of severe identity theft, and even then only rarely, and all Social Security services are offered at no cost.
As you would expect of a scam, these spams contain no valid reply information. Not only do the scammers send out email spam, they post spam to unprotected online forums as well. This is done automatically by ‘bots’ which are indiscriminate in their targets.
The email mentioned in these forum spams, firstname.lastname@example.org, is hosted at a free German email service. Not quite what one would expect from a company offering to help with an American government agency.
Barracuda Spam & Virus Firewalls block these spam messages.