Scammers are coming up with new and inventive ways to scare people out of their money.
The Social Security Administration is working to alert the public to these types of scams, and educate the public on how to best protect yourself from these scams.
Social Security Administration Public Affairs Specialist Jack Myers says to especially beware of automated calls.
“Unfortunately our offices across the country continue to receive reports from people who have received threatening phone calls or messages from individuals who are claiming to be from social security. If you receive an automated call or message from someone who says your social security number has been suspended for suspicion of illegal activity, that is a red flag right off the bat, be very very skeptical of that. We do not make those kind of phone calls, so that is very likely to be a scam.”
Scammers are getting more aggressive with both technology and their approach to you on the phone. Myers warns of red flags to look out for.
“One thing they are also doing is spoofing social security phone numbers on your caller ID. Sometimes if you get a call from social security, and you look the number up online and see it is listed as social security, you can get a false sense of security from that, but please be careful. The scammers can make the caller ID list anything they want it to, so just because that number looks like it came from us at social security, does not mean that it did.
Another thing to be aware of is if the caller is using threatening language such as arrest or other legal action. They try to use these broad terms that try to scare you into thinking that some kind of immediate action on your part, and usually that immediate action involves you giving up your personal information in some way.”
Myers said to be very aware of this type of action from someone calling you on the phone stating they are with Social Security, and never ever give them any personal or financial information.
“Any call, where the person is asking you to give up your credit card information over the phone, or to add money to gift cards is a scam. This is another one we are starting to hear about, where people are being told for whatever reason, sometimes it has to do with bank account fraud, these people are saying to go to your bank, liquidate your accounts, purchase these gift cards, and give us the number to these gift cards over the phone. We at Social Security will never ask you to do something like that, so please be vary careful and do not do anything like that. I have heard of some cases of individuals loosing significant sums of money by purchasing gift cards and giving people the numbers over the phone.”
Myers said that these scammers are being very diligent as well in trying to make contact with you and warns not to let repeated calls convince you to give them information.
“I think what they are doing with this particular round of scams is, it is repetition. They leave a message once, they leave a message twice, and then the one time you happen to pick up the call and somehow subconsciously they catch you at a bad moment, you start to fear that, ok they would not keep calling me if there were not something real here. But just be very careful, do not let the number of times they call you, fool you into thinking that it is real. We are not going to threaten you, or make those kind of threats over the phone. So when you are getting those kind of calls, be very skeptical, any of those kind of threats are just not coming from us.”
Myers said that the Social Security Administration will contact people by phone who are doing business with them, including individuals who may be applying for benefits or nearing entitlement age. He said if they suspect someone of over claiming or even fraud, that they will call and alert them, but will never threaten or ask for financial information.
According to a US News report,More than 35,000 people reported Social Security impostor scams to the Federal Trade Commission in 2018, up from 3,200 in 2017. As a result of this crime, consumers lost more than $10 million in 2018.