Watch Out for “Spoofed” Social Security Phone Scams

Watch Out for “Spoofed” Social Security Phone Scams

Have you received any calls that appear to be from Social Security where the caller asks for your Social Security number in order to “increase your benefits”? Or threatens that your benefits will be cut off if you don’t give your Social Security number? If so, hang up. It’s a scam.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning people of scammers using a caller ID trick called “spoofing”. With spoofing, scammers make it appear that they’re calling from the Social Security Administration’s 1-800-772-1213, when in fact they can be calling from anywhere. They can control what number shows up on a person’s caller ID.

If you receive such a call, hang up and remember these tips from the FTC:

  • SSA will not threaten you. Real SSA employees will never threaten you to get personal information. They also won’t promise to increase your benefits in exchange for information. If they do, it’s a scam.
  • If you have any doubt, hang up and call SSA directly. Call 1-800-772-1213 – that really is the phone number for the Social Security Administration. If you dial that number, you know who you’re getting. But remember that you can’t trust caller ID. If a call comes in from that number, you can’t be sure it’s really SSA calling.
  • If you get a spoofed call, report it. If someone calls, claiming to be from SSA and asking for information like your Social Security number, report it to SSA’s Office of Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or https://oig.ssa.gov/report. You can also report these calls to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint, and to your local Senior Medicare Patrol (1-855-613-7080 in California).

For more tips, check out the FTC’s How to Stop Unwanted Calls and Government Imposter Scams. If you think someone has misused your personal information, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft and find out what steps to take.

Please share this info far and wide.

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.