Last month, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued a warning that scammers were spoofing calls from the SSA’s Fraud Hotline. The impostors are telling lies that instill fear like “your social security number has been suspended for criminal activity” or “your benefits might be suspended if you don’t follow these instructions.”
For years, IRS impostor scams have topped fraud reporting lists, but now the federal government says that the SSA impostor scam is nearing epidemic proportions!
Here are some tips to protect yourself:
Share scam information – Scammers had to find a new con because the IRS impostor calls became too recognizable. Remember, knowledge is power, so please tell your family and friends.
Ask questions – The Social Security Administration typically does NOT call you out of the blue and they DO NOT call from the Fraud Hotline phone number.
Follow Up – Don’t call the numbers provided by the caller or through a robocall. Call SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213.
Hang up – These scams use fear to take your money. If you feel pressured into making a quick decision, just hang up.
Don’t trust the Caller ID – Scammers are constantly spoofing numbers to look official and there’s no way to tell the difference.
Safeguard private information – Never reveal private or financial information to anyone unless you initiated the call and know for certain who is on the other line.
Don’t wire money – Methods of payment are important. Reputable companies don’t mind a money trail, but scammers do. That’s why wire transfers, gift cards and bitcoins are the payment methods con artists use because once you pay it, it’s gone.
Report the scam – Whether you fall for the scam or not, report it. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set up a specific site for the SSA impostor scams at https://indentitytheft.gov/ssa. You can also report the fraudulent contact to the Office of Inspector General online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report or by calling (800) 269-027.