Disaster Relief Phone Scams Prey on Innocent Victims

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It's one thing when criminals pose as sweepstakes companies revealing to you your fake winnings... it's something completely different when phone scams involve government aid programs for disaster victims and prey on innocent people who are already in desperate need. Both are scams in their own right, but the thought of attacking those who are already in a state of need is crime at its worst.

For disaster phone scam victims, the technology behind reverse phone lookups can not only protect them from scams, but it can also keep them feeling protected since control is placed back in their hands. With a quick search, potential victims can become victors and foil a crime even before it starts. This is the power of awareness and prevention.

For a Huntsville, Alabama resident, the idea of protection with a reverse phone search did not come soon enough. The Department of Human Resources had implemented a food assistance program called the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or D-SNAP for North Alabama residents who were affected by the recent storms. The woman who was victimized signed up for the program and received a call later from a person asking her some questions. The caller stated that the woman's social security number was needed because the Food Assistance Program failed to get it on her application. The woman gave the caller her SSN and immediately became suspicious.

She called the numbers back, but both were disconnected. Worried she had just become the victim of a phone scam, she contacted the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau of North Alabama confirmed the reality of the phone scams. Michele Mason, President of the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama said, "Both the resident who reported this to us, and our office have confirmed with the Department of Human Resources that none of their representatives or volunteers from the D-SNAP program would be calling applicants by phone to collect a (Social Security number). Unfortunately this appears to be a case of an attempt to steal the identity of someone who was already trying to recover from their losses caused by the recent storms."

The BBB is urging residents to never divulge their social security number over the phone under any circumstances. Though SSNs are retrieved during the initial application process they are not critical to processing applications.

The presence of disaster relief related scams is an atrocity. Hopefully the authorities will stop the criminals before they victimize anyone else. If you are at all suspicious about a caller, perform a reverse phone check and call your local authorities. Never feel pressured to divulge personal information over the phone and always stay alert. Your safety is a top priority.