by Jennifer Leach, Acting Associate Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education, Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received reports that people pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) are calling individuals in an attempt to get their Social Security numbers (SSN) and money. In one version of the scam, the caller says your SSN has been linked to a crime and is blocked, and then asks you to pay a fee to reactivate it or to generate a new number for you. They may also ask you to state your SSN to confirm it.
In other variations, the scammer says someone has used your SSN to apply for credit cards, and that you could lose your Social Security benefits as a result. Or, they might warn you that your bank account is about to be seized, that you need to withdraw your money, and that they can tell you how to keep it safe.
All of these are scams. Here’s what you need to know:
The SSA will never call and ask for your SSN or for you to pay anything. They also will not call to threaten your benefits.
Your caller ID might show the SSA’s actual phone number, even though it is not the real SSA calling. Computers can make it easy to show any number on caller ID.
Never give your SSN to anyone who initiates a call to you, do not confirm the last 4 digits, and do not give your bank account, credit or debit card number to anybody who contacts you requesting it. Be cautious of your environment when you initiate a call to a legitimate agency or business who requires your SSN for account validation purposes.
Remember that anyone who tells you to wire money, pay with a gift card, or send cash is a scammer.
If you’re worried that a call you receive from someone who claims to be from the SSA might be fraudulent, hang up the phone. Then, call the legitimate SSA at 800.772.1213. If you believe you discovered a scam, let the FTC know at ftc.gov/complaint.
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