Social Security Scams // How To Identify & Avoid Them

Most people know that they should protect their Social Security number as much as possible. If your SSN falls into the hands of a thief, then they can cause some serious damage to your finances and credit history. However, there are scammers out there who attempt to trick you into providing your Social Security number. They try to make you think that they are making a legitimate request, and some people unfortunately fall for these scams. So, how can you identify and avoid all the Social Security scams that are currently out there? We will provide you some valuable tips on how to handle these situations so that you do not fall victim to identity theft. Keep reading to learn all the details!

 

Types Of Social Security Scams

Unfortunately, these scammers may try to come at you from all angles today. They will use any means possible to gain unauthorized access to your information so they can use it to their advantage. Here are the main types of scams and how you can recognize each of them.

Phone Calls

With the prevalence of robocalls today, these scammers are able to make thousands of Social Security fraud calls instantly. They are simply hoping that they can get one person to answer and fall for their scam. Most people receive multiple scam calls per day, so it might be easy to fall for one of these if you are not careful. Many of these are often Social Security Administration scam calls. You can typically identify a scam call a few ways. First, some cell phones will even display Spam Caller or Telemarketer on the caller ID. If you see this, do not answer. Next, if you answer the phone and hear silence for a few seconds, this might be a scam call. The automatic dialing system that these Social Security robocalls uses takes a few seconds to transfer to a live person when someone answers the phone. Callers might also threaten arrest or legal action, but do not fall for it. In addition to phone calls, you should also be on the lookout for suspicious text messages as well. The popularity of text message scams has grown tremendously recently.

 

Email

Since people conduct so much business today using email, the scammers have gotten wise to this trend. They attempt to use phishing emails to obtain people’s personal information, including their Social Security number. Be on the lookout for any suspicious emails. If you receive an email from someone that you do not know, then do not click on any links or open any attachments. Likewise, these people often attempt to impersonate someone that you do know. They will often send an email that appears to be from your bank or financial institution asking you to verify your information to correct a problem with your account. The issue is that the link will take you to a phishing website that allows the thieves to collect your information.

 

Traditional Mail

There are some occasions where people still use traditional snail mail to try and scam you out of your information. Scams via mail are fairly rare today, but you should still be on the lookout for suspicious letters that demand you to make a payment or verify information. Phone and email scams are much more common, especially since committing a scam through the U.S. postal service carries additional fines and penalties for the criminals.

 

How To Avoid Getting Scammed

There are a few things that you should always do that can help you avoid falling for Social Security scam calls or emails. First, you should know that callers have the ability to spoof their phone number on your caller ID. Spoofing means that the number that appears on your caller ID is not their actual telephone number. They can make it appear that they are calling from a phone number associated with the Social Security Administration. With that in mind, here are a few tips.

The first tip is to immediately hang up on any suspicious calls. If you receive a call and someone starts asking about your Social Security account or Social Security benefits, then you should hang up. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will not call you and ask for this type of information unless you have contacted them first and requested a call back. Thousands of these fake calls occur every day, so you cannot be afraid to simply hang up the phone on these scammers.

Next, you should never provide any payment information to anyone that you do not know. A popular phone scam involves someone calling and telling you that your Social Security number has been suspended. They tell you that they can correct the problem if you simply provide immediate payment over the phone. Even if they ask you to pay with a retail gift card, credit card, debit card, Internet currency, wire transfer, or any other payment method, do not provide any payment or bank account information. So, can your Social Security number be suspended? The answer is no. A similar scam exists with the IRS, but those calls are fake as well.

This most effective tip for avoiding these scams is simply staying vigilant and always being aware of suspicious activity. Know that most Social Security fraud comes from fake Social Security phone calls or emails. SSA employees, like most government employees at similar government agencies, will not call you unexpectedly. If you are unsure, then hang up the phone and call the Social Security Administration back. This way you can ensure that you are dialing the correct number and actually talking to someone there.

 

What To Do If You Accidentally Fall For A Scam

Even those who are extremely vigilant might fall for a scam on occasion. So, what happens if you do? Go ahead and get a copy of your credit report and keep a close eye on it. You should likely even sign up for a credit monitoring service so that you will be notified right away of any activity on your SSN. This goes a long way in helping with fraud prevention and correcting any issues immediately should they arise. Also, go ahead and place a fraud alert on your SSN with the major credit bureaus. You might even consider putting a freeze on your SSN. If the imposters attempt to use your Social Security number, then they will be unable to obtain any new credit in your name.

 

Reporting Social Security Scams

You might wonder, “Where do I report fake Social Security calls?” You should immediately report the scam to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at oig.ssa.gov and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at Identitytheft.gov. In most cases, you should go ahead and notify your local law enforcement as well. There are many consumer protection laws that prohibit this type of criminal activity, and these scams need to be investigated. If you do not want to report this activity online, then you can call the FTC Fraud hotline at 877-FTC-HELP.

 

The Bottom Line

Social Security scams are happening more and more today, especially in the current pandemic. These scammers attempt to use fear and trickery to get you to hand over your sensitive personal information. You must stay aware of these potential scams and make sure that you always protect your Social Security number as much as possible. By following the tips here, you should be able to spot potential scams and avoid handing over any useful information to these scam artists. You will be able to protect your Social Security number as much as possible.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Social Security ever contact you by phone?

Many people wonder, “Does the Social Security office call you?” Yes, but that comes with a caveat. Social Security will never contact you by phone unless you have contacted them first. If you have called and asked for information from them, then they might need to call you back after further research. Unless you are expecting a call from them, they will not call you without previous interaction that requires a follow up. Random calls claiming to be the SSA are fake Social Security calls.

 

What should I do if I think my Social Security number has been compromised?

You should get a copy of your credit report and continue to monitor it closely. You should also place a fraud alert on your Social Security number with the credit reporting agencies. Finally, you should notify the FTC that your SSN has been compromised so that they are aware of the situation.

 

What are some warning signs that my Social Security number has been scammed?

Many people wonder how to check and see if someone is using their SSN. The biggest warning sign is when you notice activity on your credit report that you did not initiate. You might also see suspicious activity on your bank or credit card statements. If you receive any types of notice from your mySocialSecurity account or the Social Security office about activity that you did not perform, then this might also be a sign that your SSN has been scammed.

Elliot Marks

Elliot Marks

Author & Social Security Advisor

Elliot Marks has spent over 10 years providing clear and concise information to help Americans navigate the complex nuances of social security and many other government services in the United States. Elliot has a passion for helping those in need of these services to be able to find timely access to news and information that is relevant and helpful to their daily lives.