All too often, a call comes in from an unknown number. Should you even answer it? Let’s say you do. It’s a call from the “Social Security Administration” telling you that your benefits will be revoked or that legal action will be taken against your Social Security Number unless you are able to provide your personal information to verify your account. This type of call happens to nearly everyone at least a few times a year. The exact reason for the call can differ, but the end result is always the same: the phone call was fake and it was not the real Social Security Administration calling you.
Each year, the Social Security Administration receives nearly half a million complaints of fraudulent calls. Social Security scams are some of the most common telephone scams that attempt to obtain your personal, bank account, or credit card information.
One possible phone tactic involves notifying you that your Social Security Number has been compromised, that it is linked to criminal activity, or that it has been suspended. The scam callers often ask you to provide your personal information to confirm it or reactivate your account. These scams may also ask you to pay a fee to reinstate your Social Security Number. As a side note, if your Social Security Number is compromised, there is no fee associated with obtaining a new number.
Another common type of phone scam involves giving you positive information, such as an increase in your benefits. Then, they will tell you that in order to get the updated benefits package, you’ll need to provide your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number.
Emails may also be sent out in an effort to hijack your account. If you do receive an email, it will most likely contain a link which will offer you a service or ask you to confirm your information. These emails may say that you are required to confirm your information to renew your benefits, or they may offer you fraud protection.
No matter whether you receive a call or an email, if scammers are able to obtain your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number, they can easily steal your identity, change your address, and alter the direct deposit information associated with your account. This then results in all your benefits being diverted.
For fraud prevention, there are a few warning signs you should watch out for. First off, a call or email from the real Social Security Agency will never request your Social Security Number. To confirm your information, you may be asked to provide some other pieces of information, but never your actual Social Security Number.
In addition, it is extremely rare that you will receive a call from the Social Security Agency without first reaching out to them. You will also never be threatened with loss of benefits, Social Security Number suspension, or legal action by a real Social Security employee.
If you Receive a Call…
If you do receive a call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Agency or a “robocall,” you should hang up and not provide any information. You should also set up a My Social Security account online so that you can monitor your account regularly for any unusual activity.
If you do need to contact the Social Security Administration, you should use the numbers provided on their site. However, if you receive a call from that same number, it is not a guarantee that it is coming from the real Social Security Agency as number spoofing may be used. As we mentioned, be sure to never provide your Social Security Number over the phone or in an email, and know that this is a major red flag of a potential scammer.
Fraud and identify theft are all too common with the many technological advances. However, it can still be largely prevented if you are informed of the many ways scammers and hackers may attempt to obtain your information.