The Social Security Administration (SSA) is warning Americans about scammers posing as employees of the agency in order to steal their personal information.
The SSA and its Office of the Inspector General (OIG) are sounding the alarm this week about two types of scams. In the first, an individual gets a phone call with an automated recording saying that his Social Security number “has been suspended for suspicion of illegal activity.” The fraudster then provides a phone number and says the person must call it to fix the problem or else the person's assets will be frozen. Anyone who does call the number is asked to provide personal information the scammer can then use to commit identity theft or other fraud.
In the other scam, the caller pretends to work for Social Security and asks the person to verify personal information, including Social Security number, date of birth and address. The SSA first alerted the public to this scheme in January.
The SSA strongly discourages people from providing personal information over the telephone unless they are certain of who is on the other end of the line. In cases when the real SSA does call individuals, the agency has usually contacted the person before.
If you receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from the SSA, you should report that information to the OIG at 800-269-0271 or online. If you have questions about a phone call, email, text message or any other type of communication claiming to be from the SSA, you can contact any Social Security office or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 800-772-1213 to make sure it is legitimate. (Social Security’s TTY number for the deaf or hard-of-hearing is 800-325-0778.)
To learn more about how to protect yourself from scams such as these, visit AARP’s FraudWatch Network.