Most Americans have received some form of this scam call – someone on the other end of the line claiming to be from a government agency. They inform you that your Social Security number has been suspended or there has been some criminal activity associated with your number. However, you can clear that all up simply by wiring them some money or purchasing gift cards or prepaid debit cards and giving them the activation codes. In short, your SSN cannot be suspended and you should hang up immediately. Unfortunately, many people fall victim to this scam and there are millions of dollars lost each year to it. Here is what you need to know about it and what to be on the lookout for when your phone rings.
Can Your Social Security Number Be Suspended?
In short, no, your Social Security number cannot be suspended, blocked, frozen, etc. The basis of this entire scam is frightening you into believing that your SSN is suspended. Without an active Social Security number, you might not receive your Social Security benefits or be able to apply for credit when you need it. Since millions of Americans rely on these benefits, they become scared that they will lose their sole source of income. You can rest assured that the Social Security Administration does not suspend numbers, so your number will remain active.
Just to make you aware, it is possible for you to put a freeze on your own number. You will still be able to receive your retirement benefits or other benefits that you might receive from the SSA, but your SSN cannot be used to open new credit accounts. You typically want to take this action when your SSN has been stolen or compromised. You can choose to place a temporary or permanent freeze on your number. If you need to apply for credit during the freeze, you can still do so, but it requires much more rigorous identity verification.
What To Do If You Received A Phone Call Saying Your Social Security Number Has Been Suspended
If you receive a call stating that your Social Security number has been suspended, you should hang up immediately. These scammers want to keep you on the phone and convince you that the scam is real. Your best option is to get off the phone with them right away. You should also notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of this call. The FTC receives thousands of similar complaints each year, but continuing to receive the information from consumers about these types of calls helps that agency fight these scams. In fact, the FTC reported in 2019 that it received 36,000 complaints for calls of this type within a two month period, and that number has only grown last year as a result of the pandemic. The Social Security scam has officially taken over the IRS imposter scam as the biggest source of fraudulent activity calls out there.
Maybe you have lost your Social Security card and are afraid this call is real. If you are ever in doubt whether you might need to take some action, you should still hang up the phone first. You can always call the Social Security Administration back using their toll-free phone number at 800-772-1213. Dialing this phone number for Social Security ensures that you really are talking to the SSA and not a scammer who has been able to spoof their telephone number. Scammers today can make your caller ID appear that it really was the SSA calling or it may appear as a local number within your area code. When you reach an agent, tell them about the call you received, and they can verify whether the agency really needed to speak with you. Almost always, the answer will be that the call was a scam.
Will The Social Security Administration (SSA) Ever Call You?
Never say never, but it is very rare that the SSA will call you. You can be certain that they will not call you out of the blue to tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended. In fact, they will not call you out of the blue about anything. The only time that they will call you is when you have initiated the conversation.
Perhaps you need to check on something with the Administration or have called with an inquiry of some kind like a question about a SS card replacement. They might need to perform some research on their end and get back to you with an answer. In this case, it is possible that you might receive a phone call back from them to provide the information you requested. You should always be aware of and expecting their phone call before you receive it. If you are not expecting their phone call, then it is almost guaranteed that the person on the other end of the line is not representing the Social Security Administration.
Never Share Your Social Security Number With Anyone!
This should be obvious, but never give anyone your Social Security number! These callers will often ask you to verify your Social Security number so that they can remove the suspension or perform some other activity. Never give them your SSN! They might even have other information about you such as your address, work history, or other information that they use to convince you the call is real. Much of this information is available on the Internet, and they have probably obtained it simply for the process of tricking you.
Other versions of this call might only request you to verify the last four digits of your SSN. Do not give them this information either! You should not share any personal information with these callers, and that is why it is imperative that you hang up immediately upon receiving the call. If the caller gains access to even the last four of your Social Security number, they can use that information to obtain illegal access to your bank accounts or credit cards. Within a matter of minutes, they could get access to your bank account number and drain your accounts or max out your credit limits. This is not a scam that you want to fall for! Even if you are in the middle of replacing a lost or stolen Social Security card, hang up and call back using the SSA’s known number.
This particular type of robocall call is attempted thousands of times each day across the U.S. Knowing the information contained above will help prevent you from falling for this scam. Know that the Social Security Administration will never call you unless you have initiated the conversation and are expecting a return phone call. You should hang up immediately whenever someone asks you to verify your SSN or even the last four digits. Report the call to the FTC fraud hotline, and keep a close eye on your credit report for possible suspicious activity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Social Security office make phone calls?
In certain situations, the Social Security office does make outbound phone calls. However, they only make these calls after you have initiated the conversation with them. For example, maybe you called in to ask about some information within your Social Security account. They might need to perform some research to get the answer, so they will opt to call you back once they have the information. You will never get a call from them out of the blue without having contacted them first.
Can you put a freeze on your Social Security number?
Yes, you can place a freeze on your own Social Security number. However, no one else can freeze or suspend your number, and the SSA will never suspend your number. The freeze mostly applies to the credit bureaus and prevents anyone from opening new credit in your name. You will still be able to receive your Social Security Disability benefits or retirements benefits. Unlike the message the caller attempts to convey, you cannot do anything to get your Social Security number suspended.
How do you find out if your Social Security number has been suspended?
Maybe you’re worried thinking, “I received a phone call saying my Social Security number has been suspended.” If you receive this type of phone call, you can ignore it. The SSA does not suspend Social Security numbers, so you can rest assured that your number is still active. If you are truly concerned, you should call the Social Security phone number at 800-772-1213. You might even get a call or voicemail stating that an arrest warrant has been issued on your SSN, and you can ignore those calls too. You can also set up a My Social Security account to check your information at SSA.gov.
Where do I report fake Social Security calls?
You should report these attempted Social Security fraud calls to the Office of the Inspector General. You can do this via a phone call or by visiting the website at https://oig.ssa.gov/. You should provide as much detail in your report as possible to help them thoroughly investigate the matter. You can also report Social Security phishing scams through this same method. Be prepared to provide your name, address, SSN, date of birth, and as much additional information as you are comfortable providing. You’ll also need to let them know when and where the scam took place as well as which method was used to attempt to obtain your information.
What should I do if I get one of these phone calls?
If you receive one of these phone calls, you should hang up immediately. The best way to prevent giving these scammers your personal information is by getting off the phone with them. After you hang up, you can report the call to the Office of the Inspector General so that they can investigate the call. Providing thorough details to that office will increase the likelihood that they can identify the callers and put a stop to those calls. Whatever you do, do not remain on the line with the impostor and provide any personal information. This could cause you to quickly become the victim of identity theft. You should also keep an eye on your credit report to make sure that no one is using your Social Security number.