There is a scam going on right now in which a scammer pretends to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in an attempt to learn a person’s Social Security number and gain access to their accounts. Reports of this scam have been growing exponentially in recent months.
Here’s how it works: scammers are calling people on the telephone claiming the person's Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended because of suspicious activity or because it has been involved in a crime. Sometimes, the scammer wants the person to confirm their SSN to reactivate it. Sometimes, they will claim the bank account is about to be seized and will provide fake advice for how to keep it safe. Often, their advice involves putting the money on gift cards and giving them the codes – which, of course, means that the money is gone.
There is another version of the Social Security scam that has two parts to it. The victim first receives a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration, stating the victim’s Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended because of fraudulent activity. The scammer goes on to claim that the victim’s local police department has been notified and will be contacting the victim. The victim then receives a second phone call from the local police department claiming they are investigating the compromised SSN. The victim is asked to give personal information in order to release their SSN. For the supposed suspension to go away, the victim is told they must pay by purchasing money cards or gift cards. Then the victim receives a third phone call asking for the numbers from the money cards or gift cards, after which the balance on the cards is drained right away.
The caller ID often shows the real Social Security Administration phone number (1-800-772-1213) when these scammers call, but they’re faking that number. It is usually not the real SSA calling; if you're worried it might be, you should hang up and call the SSA directly.
Here's what you need to know:
- Your Social Security number is not about to be suspended. You do not need to verify your number to anyone who calls out of the blue and your bank accounts are not about to be seized.
- The Social Security Administration will never call to threaten a person’s benefits or tell them to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time.
- The real Social Security Administration number is 1-800-772-1213, but scammers are faking that number in caller ID. If you are worried about what the caller is saying, you should hang up and call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to the real Social Security Administration. Even if the wait time is long, you should confirm with the real SSA instead of responding directly to one of these calls.
- You should never give any part of your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers to anyone who contacts you via phone.