The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning of a new variation on government imposter scam—this time claiming your Social Security number has been suspended. A caller claims to be protecting you from a scam, all the while actually trying to lure you into one.
A professional-sounding caller informs you that your Social Security Number has been suspended. They claim it was used in connection to fraud or some other criminal activity. To “reactivate” your number, you need to call a certain number. When you call, the person on the line (who is part of the scam) will ask you to share personal information as part of the “reactivation” process.
The scammers use the details that are shared—including your Social Security Number—to steal your identity or funds from your bank accounts.
How to protect yourself
The FTC has the following tips:
- Never give out or confirm personal information over the phone, via email or on a website until you’ve checked out whoever is asking you for it.
- Do not trust a name, phone number, or email address just because it seems to be connected with the government. Con artists use official-sounding names and may fake caller ID or email address information to make you trust them. Besides, the government normally contacts people by postal mail.
- Contact government agencies directly, using telephone numbers and website addresses you know to be legitimate.
If someone has tried to steal your personal information by pretending to be from the government, report it to the FTC.
Social Security Administration Phone Scam
Also, please be aware that if you get a call that looks like it’s from the Social Security Administration (SSA), think twice about answering it.
Scammers are spoofing SSA’s 1-800 customer service number to try to get your personal information. Spoofing means that scammers can call from anywhere, but they make your caller ID show a different number – often one that looks legit. Here are few things you should know about these so-called SSA calls.
These scam calls are happening across the nation, according to SSA: Your phone rings. Your caller ID shows that it’s the SSA calling from 1-800-772-1213. The caller says he works for the Social Security Administration and needs your personal information – like your Social Security number – to increase your benefits payments. (Or he threatens to cut off your benefits if you don’t give the information.) But it’s not really the Social Security Administration calling. Yes, it is the SSA’s real phone number, but the scammers on the phone are spoofing the number to make the call look real.
Please note that real SSA employees will never threaten you to get personal information. They also won’t promise to increase your benefits in exchange for information. If they do, it’s a scam.
If you have any doubt, hang up and call the SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213.
For more tips, check out the FTC’s How to Stop Unwanted Calls and Government Imposter Scams. If you think someone has misused your personal information, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft and find out what steps to take.