According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans reported $17 million in losses to the Social Security phone scam in the first six months of 2019.
Since January, the FTC has received 73,000 consumer reportsrelated to threatening calls and voicemails telling consumers their Social Security benefits will be suspended or that their Social Security number has been linked to a criminal investigation.
The number of reports combined with the catastrophic financial loss make this Social Security scam the most damaging of 2019. The FTC has dubbed the Social Security phone scam the “new IRS scam”of 2019.
If you’re unfamiliar with this scam, count yourself one of the lucky ones. Nearly all of us have by this time received the garbled robocall telling us there’s legal action being taken against us and our Social Security number has been “suspended” or our benefits canceled. Toward the end of the call, the robot voice directs the listener to immediately call an unfamiliar number in order to prevent prosecution or reinstate our benefits.
It usually sounds something like this:
The message you’ve received, however, is a lie. And if you call the number to clear up the mess, you won’t reach any Social Security Administration or detective’s office. It’s going to be a phone scammer likely working out of a call center full of people baiting victims the exact same way.
In order to release yourself from the investigation or reinstate your Social Security benefits, the person on the other end of the line—probably pretending to be a Social Security employee or someone working out of an investigator’s office—will ask for your name, Social Security number, personal identifying information, and bank details.
After the initial setup, this becomes the exact same phishing scam as all the others. It is an attempt by a scammer to coax you to reveal personal information or to make payments to them over the phone on fraudulent grounds.
While it may be alarming to receive a call or voicemail saying your benefits are threatened or accusing you of being involved in a crime, do not be fooled. The Social Security Administration will NOT suspend your Social Security number and will NOT call you to tell you that your benefits are stopped or that you are under investigation. Under no circumstances will any calls like this you receive be legitimate. This is not how the Social Security Administration (or any government agency) handles official business.
Watch the video below for more advice from the Oregon Attorney General on how you can avoid falling victim to Social Security scammers.