Social Security numbers are the golden ticket to identity theft. And what better way to get someone’s information than fronting as Social Security themselves?
In the calendar year ending in September 2019, the Social Security Administration (SSA) received over 450,000 complaints about fraudulent social security calls. The scammers were contacting them in an effort to access personal information, steal benefits, and more.
What is social security fraud?
In broad terms, Social Security fraud is the act of obtaining something of value through willful misrepresentation. In most cases, someone will pose as an SSA employee. They’ll explain that your Social Security number has been linked to fraudulent activity, and ask you to confirm the number in order to reactivate or issue you a new one (sometimes for a fee). These messages come in a few forms:
- You might receive a pre-recorded message explaining the so-called fraudulent activity, and then it will provide a number for you to call to fix it.
- You might receive a message stating your bank account has been hacked, and then they offer solutions on how to keep it safe.
- In a sneakier format, you might receive a call from a supposed SSA representative with good news. For example, they might suggest a cost-of-living increase in your benefits. And in order to receive that money, you’ll have to verify your Social Security number.
- You might receive a phishing email from a supposed SSA representative, and be asked to click on a link to access more information.
If you ever receive messages like this, it is 100% a scam. Why? Because Social Security has never and will never suspend numbers.
If I think I’m receiving a fraudulent Social Security call, what are the do’s and don’ts?
- Do hang up if someone if the call is random and claims to be from the SSA.
- Do be concerned if a caller says they are an “officer with the Inspector General of Social Security.” Scammers tend to use big job titles as a way of insinuating credibility.
- Do set up a Social Security account online and check in on a monthly basis for any unusual warning signs.
- Do install a robocall-blocking app on your smartphone.
- Don’t respond back to a voicemail if you receive one. If you want to contact SSA, call the customer-service line directly at 800-772-1213.
- Don’t assume a call is legitimate, even if it is coming from the number stated above. Scammers know how to trick caller ID.
- Don’t give your Social Security number or other information to anyone who contacts you by email. The SSA never uses email to check in with you!
- Don’t click on sketchy links in supposed SSA emails. If you want to know if a link is legitimate, hover your mouse over the address. The main part of the address should end with “.gov/” — including the forward slash. If there’s anything in between .gov and the slash, it’s fake.
What are some additional steps I can take to prevent social security fraud?
- Never say your Social Security number out loud in public.
- Do not keep your Social Security card on you at all times.
- Report it! The best thing you can do in preventing yourself and others from fraud is to let the SSA know. If you suspect someone is committing fraud, contact the Office of the Inspector General’s fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or submit a report online at https://oig.ssa.gov/.
Have you experienced fraudulent Social Security calls and want to share your story? Leave us a comment below! And if you’re in need of a Social Security Disability Lawyer, we’ve got you covered. Visit our services page for more info and contact us online today.