It's not just you — social security scam phone calls are 23 times more common this year

I think we can all agree that the endless plague of robo-calls has spiraled out of control. But the folks at the public data directory  BeenVerified wanted to quantify exactly how much worse this onslaught has gotten. They collected data from more than 200,000 spam call reports from across the country, and crunched the numbers to see what they could find.

And while the results aren't really surprising, per se, they're certainly harrowing.

The frequency of Social Security spam calls has multiplied 23 times, from 0.4% of all spam calls in 2018, to 9.5% in 2019.

BeenVerified does acknowledge that their data does not necessarily reflect a complete picture. They actually suspect that things might be worse. "The Spam Complaint Monitor is a canary in the coal mine showing broad spam and robocall topic trends," said spokesperson Justin Lavelle. "As the data is self-reported, the total numbers of complaints related to each of these spam call topics are almost certainly higher."

They add:

The results from the BeenVerified Spam Call Complaint Monitor mirror broader trends, as more than 76,000 Social Security scam calls were reported to the Federal Trade Commission in the 12-month period ending in March 2019, with losses totaling $19 million. Losses related to IRS scams peaked at $17 million for the 12 months ending in September 2016, the FTC reports.

Less than 3.5% of Social Security scam complaints to the FTC resulted in lost cash, but when victims take the bait, the losses are comparatively high. The median reported loss was $1,500 in 2018, more than four times higher than losses from all other frauds, the FTC reports.

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Crowdfunding public access to the Social Security death index

The Social Security Administration has a tool for looking up deaths in the USA that took place within the past three years, but older deaths are in the Social Security Death Master File (aka Death Index); you can buy a limited version of that from the SSA for $2.3k + $3.4k/yr; the SSA has quoted access to the full version at $5.2k. Read the rest