SCAMMERS TRYING TO STEAL your Social Security information are on the rise. Over 30,000 people reported Social Security imposter calls to the Federal Trade Commission in 2018, up from 3,200 in 2017. As a result of these scams, consumers lost more than $10 million in 2018.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, it’s wise to be wary. The phone call may appear to be from the government, but thieves are behind the fraud and will ask for personal information or insist you send money.
To avoid being a victim of the suspended Social Security number scam, it’s important to:
- Understand what Social Security fraud involves.
- Recognize red flags from callers.
- Report any suspicious activity.
- Take steps to protect your finances.
Follow along to see how this scam unfolds and what steps to take if you receive a suspicious call.
How the Suspended Social Security Number Scam Really Works
The suspended Social Security number scam usually begins with a phone call or robocall. Scammers will often spoof the Social Security Administration number to add credibility to their scam. This allows the caller ID to show a number that looks like it is from the government department. When you answer, a scammer will say your Social Security number has been suspended.
The scam may take on several variations. In a slightly less frightening version of the scam, victims are told their Social Security number has been suspended due to ‘suspicious activity. And in order to reactive your social security number, the scammer will say you need to be connected to a Social Security representative. You’ll be asked to share personal information, such as stating the last four digits of your Social Security number to make sure it matches. You may be told to send money too.
Ultimately, the scammer’s goal is to get your money as well as personal information including; your birthday, bank account number, home address, etc. The scammer will usually want a payment from you to reactivate your Social Security number. Victims have reported being told they can make payments via wire transfers or gift cards.
Spot the Social Security Fraud Red Flags
If you receive a call informing you that your Social Security number has been suspended, you can rest assured it is not true. Social Security numbers do not get suspended. “Any call that states your Social Security number is under suspension is a scam,” says Robert Siciliano, a cybersecurity expert for ETF Managers Group in Summit, New Jersey. Thieves are hoping you’ll be scared and turn to them when they offer help. “In reality these scammers are trying to steal your information,” Siciliano says.
While the SSA may make phone calls, the organization states its employees will never threaten you for information. SSA employees won’t say you could be arrested if you don’t share your personal banking records and do not make threats about taking legal action if you fail to answer their questions. The SSA doesn’t ask for payment to be made in gift cards either.
Take Steps to Protect Your Personal Information
If you receive a call that appears to be from the Social Security Administration but aren’t sure what to do first, start by hanging up. Google their number or call Social Security Administration directly at 1 (800) 772-1213
After getting a scam call, look at your phone’s blocking feature. “If at all possible, block that number to prevent it from calling you back,” Schaffer says. You can also report the issue to the Federal Trade Commission by filing an imposter scam complaint online.
To be on the safe side avoid sharing your Social Security number with strangers, even if they appear professional or helpful. “Unlike the scammers’ claims, the Social Security number never expires, never dies.