Rise in fraudulent retirement calls and emails

Department of Retirement Systems recently learned of several email and phone schemes targeting public employees.

Last week, an employee at the Washington State Department of Ecology got a call from one of these scammers. The employee, who will remain anonymous, received a call on her work cell phone from someone claiming to represent a non-profit that works with DRS. “The caller sounded believable and was very professional,” she recalls. “Who wouldn’t want free advice about retirement?”

However, when the Ecology employee asked the caller to confirm the organization name and contact information, the call was disconnected.

Thankfully, the employee did not give out any personal information on the phone and reported the call to DRS. She shared that one of the biggest reasons for reporting the threat was to help protect others. “I want fellow state employees to know what to look for and keep their guard up.”

A handful of similar incidents have been reported from school and state employees in recent weeks.

What to do

If you are contacted by someone claiming to be a retirement planner working for DRS, hang up the phone or don’t open the email. You can report the incident by contacting DRS.

DRS will never call or email you offering retirement planning assistance. If you would like to talk to someone at DRS about your retirement, you can schedule an appointment through your online account.

How DRS keeps your account secure

DRS employees receive training in cybercrime throughout the year to ensure the safety of our customers’ personal information. Your online account includes multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA allows us to combine things such as your email, and text messaging to confirm and authorize access. DRS also provides Account Security Information that includes a short video and a list of tips and steps to take if you think you’ve been a victim of fraud.

How to avoid scams

Never give out your personal information to someone you don’t know without checking to see if they are who they say they are. This includes those who you think might be DRS employees but you aren’t sure. You can contact us directly if you think an email is fraudulent.

Don’t share your passwords. Never provide your passwords through email, on the phone, through the US mail or in a video call (such as Zoom).

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