Don't Fall for Scammers Calling to Warn You of a Problem With Your Social Security Number
Scammers seem to be stepping up efforts before the stressful holiday season with robocalls warning of Social Security number problems
Be very careful about answering phone calls from numbers you don't recognize, including 800 numbers. Scammers are using 800 numbers and robocalling victims with recorded messages advising of problems with Social Security numbers and warning of legal consequences. These scammers prey on your curiosity when an 800 number calls, hoping you'll answer thinking it's a legit business or government agency.
Social Security number at risk
The recorded message you may receive often purports to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and warns you that your Social Security number is at risk. Only half of that statement is true. You're not being called by the Social Security Administration, but your Social Security number is at risk because of the scammers on the other end of the call.
Many of us don't answer calls from people we do know, so why answer a call from an unknown number, especially if you aren't expecting a call? Unless you are sure of who is calling you, it's a good idea in this day and age to let calls you don't recognize go to voicemail. If it's important, you'll get a voicemail and can return the call. When you answer a call, scammers can usually tell, which opens you up to getting many more calls in the future. Interacting with the call, either by speaking, pressing numbers or calling back, certainly confirms your number and opens you up to identity theft or worse. To be safe, don't interact with unknown callers.
Numbers that Show on Caller ID
This scam often spoofs the number of the real SSA, which is 800-772-1213. But people are reporting other numbers, such as 800-871-6829. Don't answer these calls and don't call back.
Safeguard your Personal Information
There is never a good reason to provide your personal information over the phone, especially when you aren't expecting a call and aren't able to verify who is on the other end of the call. Your Social Security number is an important number. It should be kept secret and private at all times unless you are making an application for which this number is necessary. If you receive a phone call or other solicitation and you are asked to provide this info, cease contact immediately.
Your Social Security number has not been suspended
The phone calls as part of this scam usually advise that your Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity or because it was involved in a crime. But this is a lie. The scammer only wants you to verify your Social Security number in order to 'reactivate' it, possibly to prevent your bank from being seized or to cancel a warrant for your arrest. But the scammer just wants your personal information, and probably money in the form of gift cards. Never, under any circumstances, pay anyone with gift cards.
Social Security Administration won't call
The SSA won't call you like this. Your Social Security number won't be suspended. You'll never have to verify this info to a random caller. If you get a call like this, hang up and file a complaint.
This scam has been going around for a little while, but the recordings sometimes vary. The recordings being reported today are as follows:
Enforcement agencies to suspend your Social Security number on an immediate basis, as we have received suspicious trails of information in your name. The moment you receive this message. You need to get back to us to avoid legal consequences. To connect this call, press one.
Call the real Social Security Administration
If you are worried and suspect a problem, you can contact the real SSA by calling 800-772-1213. Do not call the number that left you the suspicious message.
Red Flags of Phone Scams
- Government agencies usually don't call you. They usually start with letters, which are cheaper and usually sufficient to solve most issues.
- No legitimate business or government agency representative will call to threaten you, either with arrests, fines, etc. Scammers use fear to push you into a panic.
- Don't give out your sensitive personal information, including your Social Security number, to someone requesting it out of the blue.
- No one should require you to pay a certain way, especially with wire transfers or gift cards. Paying with a check or credit card should be an option.
- No legitimate business or government agency representative will request you to meet outside the regular place of business, including outside the front doors.
- Repeated calls in a short period of time or a pushy person on the other end of the call should raise alarm bells. You should never have to make a decision or do something immediately.
REPORT ALL SUSPECTED SCAMS
If you are or suspect that you are the victim of a scam or some other illegal practice, you should file a complaint. Doing so can help protect your rights and protect others from becoming victims. If you suspect you are dealing with a scamming, you should first stop all contact to minimize that chances of further losses. Don't respond to scammers via phone, text message, email or postal mail.
In North Carolina, you can report scams and other illegal practices to the North Carolina Attorney General's Office. If you live outside North Carolina, report it to your state Attorney General. You can also submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which is co-sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).