Protect Yourself from Social Security Phone Scams
August 12, 2020
Social security fraud is becoming a serious issue. The abundance of technology in our lives makes it easier for bad actors to attempt scams.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that they’ve received more than 63,000 reports since January 2018 of scammers posing as Social Security Administration (SSA) employees. “Three percent of those people reported a loss — and they lost $16.6 million (with a median loss of $1,484),” says the FTC.
It can be difficult to distinguish if calls are serious — and that is stressful! What do you do if social security scammers have targeted you? We have a few tips to help you stay safe.
Most Common Scams
The SSA has warned citizens about two common social security scenarios:
- The first scam is from individuals posing as investigators from the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). They will ask you to call a number and purchase hundreds of dollars’ worth of iTunes cards, other gift cards or prepaid banking cards.
- The second scheme is an automated phone call stating that your Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended. The message threatens that your account will be deactivated if you don’t call a provided phone number. You will be asked for personal information if you call the number.
Is it Real or a Scam?
There are a few ways to determine if the call you receive is real or a scam.
- Watch out for calls from the SSA. They rarely call anyone and typically only reach out if you contacted them first.
- Be cautious of calls that threaten consequences if you don’t provide personal information.
- It is most likely a scam if they ask for your Social Security number. An actual SSA employee would never ask you to give your Social Security number over the phone. According to AARP, “The SSA strongly discourages people from providing personal information over the telephone unless they are certain of who is on the other end of the line.”
Be smart and trust your instincts. Technology is no match for your common sense.
What to Do if You Receive a Suspicious Call
If you feel like you are being called by one of these scammers, hang up the phone and report it to the OIG at 800-269-0271 or online. You can call Social Security’s customer service line at 800-772-1213 to find out if a call claiming to be from SSA is real.
For more information visit AARP’s FraudWatch Network or call their free helpline at 877-908-3360.
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