You’re sitting down to dinner when the telephone rings. You check the caller ID and notice the call originates from a Washington D.C. area code.
A voice says, “This is Agent Jones with the Social Security Administration. We’re having problems with our computer system and I need to confirm your Social Security number.” Hang up. It’s likely a scam.
SSA scammers want your personal information
Fraudsters have devised myriad ways to trick unsuspecting victims into divulging personal information. Impersonating employees of the Social Security Administration (SSA) is one of the latest cons. Some people have received “robo- calls,” complete with real-sounding voices. Others have been directed to official- looking websites containing online forms for new Social Security cards. Still others have been hoodwinked with tantalizing references to cost-of-living increases or help with the Medicare prescription drug program.
What’s the endgame? If crooks can acquire your date of birth, mother’s maiden name, bank account information, Social Security number and other key data, they can use that information to steal your identity and/or your money.
Protect yourself by following these guidelines:
- Don’t give out personal information. Unless you’re absolutely certain you know the person on the other end of the phone call or email, don’t respond.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Con artists have figured out ways to disguise their identity using technology. The phone number for a bank, insurance company, or government agency on your caller ID readout may be bogus. Area codes can be faked as well.
- Call the agency directly. If the caller claims to work for the SSA, call your local agency’s office or the SSA’s toll-free number at 1-800-772- 1213. Verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity.
- Beware fake websites. Get to the agency directly by typing the “ssa.gov” address into your internet browser. Don’t trust hyperlinks that may send you to a scammer’s clever imitation website.
If you think you’ve been a victim of a scam, call the SSA fraud hotline at 1-800- 269-0271, and get in touch with local law enforcement.