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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

An Increase in Phone Scammers Regarding Social Security Numbers

During the last several months there has been a sizable increase in telephone scams related to Social Security numbers. In fact, several people we know locally have received these calls.

The increase in these scam phone calls has been significant enough that a few months back Social Security Administration issued a warning about it.

In most cases, the recorded caller will spoof a real Social Security phone number so you might think it really is a call from a Social Security office. The caller will then tell you that your number has been suspended for suspicious activity or that the number has been compromised. You will be instructed to call a specific number immediately, or your Social Security account will be deactivated.

If you call the number given in the recording, you will be asked for your name, Social Security number and other personal information. If you do that, your Social Security number really will be compromised.

Here’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to this kind of scam. Social Security will never initiate contact with you through a phone all. It is possible you can get a call from Social Security if you are already working on some issue or a claim with the agency.

But even if that is the case, here’s what you should do. Hang up and call the agency’s main number at (800) 772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Here is a simple set of steps you can take to avoid phone scams, whether they come from someone claiming to be from Social Security or any other agency or organization.

  • Be cautious about calls from unknown numbers. If you answer a call from an unknown number, and it appears to be a scam, hang up immediately.
  • If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on the agency's official website to verify the authenticity of the request.
  • In addition to protecting your Social Security number, never give out other personal information such as account numbers, your mother's maiden name, passwords, or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if you are at all suspicious.
  • Use caution if you are being pressured for information or immediate payment.

The Social Security Administration received more than 450,000 complaints about scammers in 2019. Given that so many more people are home this year because of the pandemic and increased scammer activity, it is likely that number will rise in 2020. So, please be extremely careful when you receive a call that you are uncertain about.

If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from SSA or its Office of the Inspector General, you should report that information to the OIG online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report or by calling (800) 269-0271. You can also report these scams to the Federal Trade Commission through a new site specific to Social Security scams: https://identitytheft.gov/ssa.



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