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The Social Security Administration Is Calling — Except It’s Not

One of the most popular ways for criminals to steal money and sensitive information is by impersonating a trusted source — often a government agency. A frequently impersonated agency is the Social Security Administration (SSA). Cell phone provider T-Mobile reported that in 2021 its customer security tools flagged more than 2 billion Social Security impostor calls as scams. Here’s what you need to know to spot and stop a Social Security impostor scam.

How It Works

  • You receive an unexpected phone call, text or email from someone claiming to be from SSA who needs to talk with you urgently.
  • You learn there is a problem with your Social Security number — for example, you receive a warning that it's been linked to criminal activity and suspended. 
  • Alternatively, the scammer will explain that you qualify for an increase in your benefit, but you must register and pay a fee to obtain it.
  • To address whatever issue the criminal presents, you need to share your Social Security number or other sensitive information or pay money.

What You Should Know

  • All scams rely on getting the target into a heightened emotional state, such as fear or excitement. In the SSA impostor scam, criminals use one or the other (sometimes both), knowing that it’s hard to access logical thinking when emotions are high.
  • SSA will not call you out of the blue and will not ask for your Social Security number — they already have it.
  • Sometimes the criminal will add an air of authenticity by claiming to be from the Social Security Office of the Inspector General. No matter what office the scammer claims to be from, it’s a lie.

What You Should Do

  • Don’t engage with anyone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. If you are concerned that there is a problem with your account, contact SSA at 800-772-1213 (but prepare to wait awhile before you talk to a person).
  • You can set up a My SSA account and receive encrypted communications from SSA through it. With this access, you can go online to find out whether SSA is trying to reach you. You can also check the status of an application, get a replacement card and more. Get started at
  • If you shared your Social Security number and feel it was part of a scam, file a police report for a record, and go to for specific guidance on protecting against its use in identify fraud.

Support for Fraud Victims: AARP offers a free emotional support program for people affected by a scam or fraud. In partnership with Volunteers of America, these ReST (Resilience, Strength and Time) sessions are online, hour-long, confidential small groups led by trained peer facilitators. Experiencing a scam can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to define you. Interested? Visit to learn more.

Knowledge gives you power over scams. The AARP Fraud Watch Network equips you with reliable, up-to-date insights and connects you to our free fraud helpline so you can better protect yourself and loved ones. We also advocate at the state, federal and local levels to enact policy changes that protect consumers and enforce laws.

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can help you spot and avoid scams. Sign up for free Watchdog Alerts, review our scam-tracking map, or call our toll-free fraud helpline at 877-908-3360 if you or a loved one suspect you’ve been a victim.