Social Security Phone Scams on the Rise ~ When in Doubt, Hang Up!

Social Security Phone Scams on the Rise ~ When in Doubt, Hang Up!

We’ve written a couple warnings on “spoofed” Social Security phone scams, where scammers “appear” to be from Social Security and ask for your Social Security number. These scams are continuing AND we’re receiving reports of these scams with new twists. In one version, the caller, saying they’re from Social Security, informs you that your Social Security number has been suspended for suspicion of illegal activity. They threaten that if you don’t contact them immediately, your account will be deactivated. In another version, it’s a recorded message from the “Social Security Administration legal department” saying that a case has been filed against you under your SSA number and an arrest warrant issued. The recording then says to “press 1” to speak with agent from “our legal department”, etc.

 

In all variations, scammers are misusing the Social Security Administration’s authority in phone schemes to trick you into giving them money or personal information. They state there is a problem with your Social Security number or account. They claim there has been suspicious or fraudulent activity and you could be arrested or face other legal action. They spoof SSA’s main customer-service telephone number on caller ID.

 

But, don’t believe them, and don’t provide any information. SSA employees will never threaten you for information or promise benefits in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent. Just hang up. If you suspect you’ve been contacted by an SSA scammer call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. You can also report such scams to our California Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-713-7080.

 

Here are some additional tips to know from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to keep you safe.

  • The SSA will never (ever) call and ask for your Social Security number. It won’t ask you to pay anything. And it won’t call to threaten your benefits.
  • Your caller ID might show the SSA’s real phone number (1-800-772-1213), but that’s not the real SSA calling. It’s spoofing. Computers make it easy to show any number on caller ID. You can’t trust what you see there.
  • Never give your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you. Don’t confirm the last 4 digits. And don’t give a bank account or credit card number – ever – to anybody who contacts you asking for it.
  • Remember, that anyone who tells you to wire money, pay with a gift card, or send cash is a scammer. Always. No matter who they say they are.

If you’re worried about a call from someone who claims to be from the Social Security Administration, get off the phone. Then call the real SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). If you’ve spotted a scam, then tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Karen Fletcher
Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.