Be secure in your response to widespread Social Security scam

Wednesday, May 01, 2019


Consumer Action is warning consumers about a new twist on the government imposter scam: the Social Security Administration (SSA) scam.

Con artists are spoofing the phone number of the SSA and claiming to be with the federal agency. When their targets answer the phone (or listen to a voicemail they leave), the scammers threaten them with legal action (often including jail) and/or the suspension of their Social Security numbers (SSNs), typically claiming that the numbers were involved in some sort of “suspicious activity.”

The only thing that should raise your suspicions, however, is receiving a call like this.

The scam is so widespread right now that it’s been given the “honorary” title of “#1 scam in America!”

You should know that the Social Security Administration will never call to threaten your benefits or ask for money.

You should also know to never give any part of your SSN to unsolicited callers.

And any request that you send money to “unblock” or otherwise resolve issues related to your SSN is the sure sign of a scam. Unfortunately, if you fall for it and send money via wire transfer or prepaid card (which scammers typically request), it’s going to be hard to recoup your losses: These payment methods aren’t typically recoverable by law enforcement or banking officials.

If you ever question the legitimacy of a communication (phone call, voicemail, email, letter, social media post or text) claiming to be from a government agency, contact the agency using information you find in the phone directory or online (through the official .gov site)—not through the contact info provided in the questionable communication—and ask the agency directly if the communication is legitimate.

Consumers who believe they are victims of the SSA scam should contact their bank, state attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Consumer Action offers free multilingual publications on how to protect yourself from frauds and scams. Consumers can also follow our headline news posts and consumer alerts on the Consumer Action homepage to keep up-to-date on the latest news, including frauds/scams.




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