Nearly all of your financial and medical records are tied to your Social Security number and account, which is why data thieves keep trying to steal them for fraudulent schemes or illegal sales. Robocall scammers use deception to deliberately fake the caller ID that appears on your phone, disguising their identity, in an attempt to seduce you to actively give out your Social Security number and other valuable personal information. Scammers often spoof the Social Security Administration’s phone numbers so you think it’s the agency calls. Consumers need to be aware of such deceptive scams and learn about some measures to avoid them.
How to Identify a Social Security Scam?
The latest scam techniques using robocalls or live callers have increased. Scammers may pose as government employees, threaten arrest or other legal actions, or may offer to increase benefits, protect assets, or address identity theft. They often require payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, prepaid debit cards, virtual money, or cash by mail. These criminals are constantly evolving and finding new ways to steal your money and personal information. If there is a problem with your Social Security account number, the Social Security Administration will email rather than call you. Usually, they will only contact you if you ask to call or if you have ongoing business with them.
The employees from Social Security Administration will never threaten you with information or promise benefits in exchange for personal information or money. They may call you under certain circumstances, but will never do things like:
- Threatening you
- Suspending your SSN
- Asking you to pay immediately
- Asking for payment by cash, gift card, prepaid debit card, cryptocurrency, or wire transfer
- Asking for a gift card number over the phone or wire or transfer cash
Asking for personal details or bank information in order to provide you with a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
How to Protect Yourself from Social Security Scams?
As with all scams, the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to be vigilant.
If you get a call asking for your Social Security number or other personal information, it’s best to hang up immediately. You may also want to consider adding the caller’s phone number to a blocked call list to help prevent repeated spam calls. However, one thing worth mentioning is that spoofing allows scammers to use a series of misleading numbers. Therefore, blocking the number that was the first to call you doesn’t prevent further calls from different phone numbers. To ensure that your information is stored securely, you can shred any document that contains sensitive information, not just put them in the trash. If you access Social Security information online, keep your password private and change it regularly to minimize the chance of getting your account hacked.
It’s also worthwhile to check your credit report regularly to make sure no one has compromised your financial information. Paid credit monitoring services may also be helpful. Finally, try to stay up to date with the latest Social Security scams. The SSA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) monitors these situations and alerts them when new programs emerge. To avoid becoming the victim of social security scams, there are a number of tips that are listed below:
- If you receive a suspicious call, hang up and report it at oig.ssa.gov.
- Do not reply to unknown calls, emails, or text messages.
- Before making any large purchase or financial decision, seek advice from someone you trust.
- Do not provide money or personal information too hastily.
If you did share personal information or suffer from financial loss, please do not be embarrassed to report it.
What to do with Social Security Scams?
If you suspect that you are the victim of a scam, or just want to report a phone call or letter you find suspicious, you have several options.
- You can call the Office of the Inspector General hotline (1-800-269-0271)
- File a fraud report on the OIG website by using the online SSA Fraud Reporting Form.
- Report the scam on the FTC’s complaints website.
Be sure to record anything you can add to your reports, such as phone numbers or websites, the name of the caller, the time and date of the call or email, the information you were asked to provide, and anything else that might help identify fraudsters.
- It’s quite possible to suffer from Social Security Scams these days.
- You should learn some tips to quickly and accurately recognize Social Security Scams.
- It’s also necessary to learn about some measures to take when suffering from Social Security Scams.
- Don’t feel embarrassed to share your scam experiences with others.
- Just keep your Social Security Number private!