Here’s what you need to know.
Every tax season, you hear warnings about phone scammers pretending to be employees with the Internal Revenue Service who are trying to steal your personal information often using threats and bribes. Now, regulators are alerting people about a new “spoofing” scheme involving fake calls from the Social Security Administration.
The SSA’s Office of the Inspector General has issued a warning about a phone scam where identity thieves pretending to be Social Security employees call from the administration’s actual customer service line, which is known as “spoofing.”
The calls will even look like they are coming from the SSA’s general customer service line: 800-772-1213.
The caller will either claim that your SSA file lacks important personal data, such as your Social Security number, or that they need more information in order to increase your benefit payment. They may also threaten to cut off your Social Security payments if you don’t confirm info they have on hand.
The Social Security Administration will never threaten you in order to get personal data from you. Nor will the employees with the agency offer to up your benefits if you agree to give them information. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be an SSA employee who either threatens or bribes you for information, it’s a scam.
If you receive such a call, hang up and report the call to the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General, either through its website or by calling 800-269-0271.
“This caller-ID spoofing scheme exploits SSA’s trusted reputation, and it shows that scammers will try anything to mislead and harm innocent people,” Gale Stallworth Stone, the acting inspector general of Social Security, said in a statement. “I encourage everyone to remain watchful of these schemes and to alert family members and friends of their prevalence.”
“We will continue to track these scams and warn citizens so that they can stay several steps ahead of these thieves,” she added.
Protect Yourself From Robocalls
In the meantime, you can take proactive steps to protect yourself from robocalls. To reduce the number of robocalls you receive, list your phone number with the “Do Not Call” registry, download a call-blocking app to intercept robocalls and sign up for your plan’s robocall alert service.
You could also set up your phone to reject anonymous numbers automatically, which prohibits robocallers from leaving a voicemail. But with this option, you also run the risk of missing legitimate calls from loved ones who are hiding their number for privacy reasons.
Whether or not you use any of the tools, you should still always report any unwanted scam or spam calls to the FTC by filling out an online complaint. These reports allow the regulator to track scams and hold violators accountable.