The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports a dramatic increase in phone scams. Senior citizens are targets for scammers claiming to be from the SSA. The reason for the call? To tell the senior his/her Social Security number has been suspended. The caller states there has been fraudulent or criminal activity with the card. The number is suspended to protect the real card holder.
“They say to call a number to clear it up — where they’ll ask you for personal information,” according to the Federal Trade Commission. “The caller pretends to be protecting you from a scam while he’s trying to lure you into one.”
The SSA does not suspend Social Security numbers. Not for any reason. There is no cost to reinstate it. Despite the caller’s claims, it’s a scam.
If you receive a call from an alleged SSA representative, use a free reverse phone book app for iPhone to verify the number. Some scammers spoof the SSA’s customer service number — 1-800-772-1213 — to take the scam a step further.
SSA Warns Citizens
“Unfortunately, scammers will try anything to mislead and harm innocent people, including scaring them into thinking that something is wrong with their Social Security account and they might be arrested,” said Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone. “I encourage everyone to remain watchful of these schemes and to alert family members and friends of their prevalence. We will continue to track these scams and warn citizens so that they can stay several steps ahead of these thieves.”
- The SSA rarely, if ever, calls people on the phone. They communicate by mail.
- Be aware that the SSA will not make threats.
- Do not give them your bank account number.
- Don’t give out your Social Security number.
- Ignore demands from automated calls.
- Never give or confirm information.
- Don’t assume the call, text, or email is legitimate. Again, contact people by mail.
- Check all phone numbers using an iPhone reverse cell search app.
- Do not engage the person on the phone.
- Block phone numbers you suspect to be fake.
- Contact government agencies directly in person, through verified phone numbers, or through their website.
- Contact government agencies directly, using telephone numbers and website addresses you know to be legitimate.
If someone has tried to steal your personal information by pretending to be from the government, report it to the FTC. Also, report suspicious calls to the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online.