NEW HARTFORD — A New Hartford woman is sending the word out to fellow senior citizens about a telephone scam she could have been the victim of — but wasn't.
Around late-morning Thursday, 83-year-old Mary Mettais' phone rang and she let the call go to her answering machine.
Once it got there she heard a robotic man's voice — a Mark Thompson — advising her there was "an enforcement action filed on (her) social security number for fraudulent activity," and she should call the Social Security Administration back, "before we begin with legal proceedings."
The phone number left was 310-307-0089.
"I knew not to even pick the phone up," Mettais said Thursday afternoon. "I knew it was a hoax."
According to a telephone scam watchdog website https://800notes.com, there are multiple posts from other individuals receiving calls from that number. Many, with the exact same wording as the phone message Mettais received.
Friday, an Observer-Dispatch reporter called the phone number which was answered by a man saying, "Social Security Administration."
The reporter asked the man where his office was located and he stated "California."
When asked where in California, the call then was apparently ended by the man without another word.
The reporter tried re-calling the number from the same phone line, only to be greeted by a recording that said, "call rejected."
A spokesman at the Social Security Administration was very familiar with the sort of calls Mettais received and pointed to safety guidelines from the United States Office of Inspector General for recent information.
An Oct. 10 online blog post from the OIG's office reads, "The reports indicate the caller identifies as 'Gale Stone' and states the person’s Social Security number (SSN) is at risk of being deactivated or deleted. The caller then asks the person to call a provided phone number to resolve the issue. Citizens should be aware that the scheme’s details may vary; however, citizens should avoid engaging with the caller or calling the number provided, as the caller might attempt to acquire personal information."
Officials from SSA reiterated that there are myriad variations on such scams, as well as ways to protect oneself.
Further, Mettais she independently called the Social Security Administration to be sure all was right. And it was.
"I wanted to let everyone know about this scam," Mettais said.