Social Security phone scams are becoming increasingly common, with fraudsters taking advantage of unsuspecting individuals to gain access to their hard-earned money. Your hard-earned money. To help protect yourself against such scams, it’s important to know what to look for and understand the most common strategies utilized by these crooks.
- Impersonation Scam
One of the most common Social Security scams is the impersonation scam. In this scam, a fraudster will call or text you pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA). They may claim that there is a problem with your account and that you need to provide personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account information, to fix it. They may also ask you to make a payment to resolve the issue. However, it is important to remember that the SSA will never call or text you and ask for personal information or money. If you receive a call or text like this, hang up the phone or delete the text immediately.
- Phishing Scam
Phishing scams are also a common strategy used by fraudsters to gain access to victims’ personal and financial information and it’s similar to the impersonation scam. The scammer attempts to lure the victim into providing sensitive data, such as Social Security numbers or bank account information, by using text messages that appear to come from a legitimate but non-SSA source. To protect yourself against phishing scams, it’s important to be suspicious of any unsolicited text messages that you receive and verify their authenticity before responding.
- Grandparent Scam
A third scam is the “grandparent scam.” In this scam, a fraudster will call or text an older person and pretend to be their grandchild. They may say that they are in trouble and need money wired to them immediately. They may even ask for personal information like their SSN or bank account numbers. Never give out personal information or send money to someone you don’t know. If in doubt, ask a trustworthy friend or relative.
- Social Security Card Scam
Next up is the “Social Security Card Scam.” In this scam, a fraudster will contact you and claim that they can help you get a new Social Security card for a fee. Many people have lost their original card or their card is worn and in need of replacement. The scammer may ask for your Social Security number, birth certificate, and other personal information, however, it is important to remember that you can get a new Social Security card for free by just visiting your local Social Security office.
- “Free” Benefits Consultation Scam
Another scam that is becoming more popular is the “Free” Benefits Consultation Scam. When this is attempted, a fraudster will call you and offer a free consultation on how to increase your Social Security benefits. They may ask for personal information and a fee to “process” the consultation. Remember that the SSA provides free information and services, and never charges for a consultation.
- Paying for a Social Security Number
Believe it or not, another scam has people wanting to sell you a second SSN number. Now you already know this but Social Security numbers are not for sale. It is also illegal to use a false Social Security number. You (presumably) have a Social Security card and you definitely don’t need another.
- Caller ID Spoofing
In a caller ID spoofing scam, a fraudster alters the caller ID information displayed on the victim’s phone, making it appear as if the call is from an official and trustworthy source. The scammer may then pretend to be from the Social Security Administration or another government agency in order to get victims to give out private and confidential information. To protect yourself against these types of scams, only trust caller IDs that you recognize and are sure are accurate. If they offer to give you a phone number to call saying that it is the SSA office, be wary of that too. It could be a fake! If you need to phone the SSA, look up the number from your existing records or search for the number online.
Not everyone is out to rip you off but it is important for you to be aware of the common Social Security phone scams in order to protect yourself from fraud. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the SSA will never call or text you and ask for personal information or money. If you receive a call or text like this, hang up the phone or delete the text immediately. Never, ever give out personal information or send money to someone you don’t know. Always be skeptical of unsolicited phone calls or texts and never pay for a service that the SSA provides for free. If in doubt, speak to a trusted friend or relative. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you suspect that you have been a victim of a Social security scam, report it to the SSA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) immediately. By being vigilant and taking the necessary precautions, we can help protect ourselves and our loved ones from Social Security fraud.
Want information on other scams targeting seniors? Check out our article Beware Of These Top 12 Senior Scams.