Scam Watch

The pitch: Someone calls you on the telephone, saying he is from the Red Cross, and delivers the bad news: Your husband has been injured in Iraq and flown to a hospital in Germany. To start treatment, they need his Social Security number.

The reality: Of all identity theft scams, this has to be one of the scummiest. Several attempts have been made to get personal information about military personnel by people who pose as Red Cross representatives. In a call typical of the scam, a fake Red Cross worker tells a military spouse that he needs to verify personal information, including Social Security number, date of birth and address.

The scam: The information sought by the caller can be used by fraudsters to open bank accounts in the serviceperson’s name and get fraudulent credit cards.

Red Cross response: “We would never be the ones to call a spouse to say a serviceperson has been injured,” said spokeswoman Devorah Goldburg. “This is nothing but a cruel scam.”


-- David Colker