According to the AARP, there has been a significant uptick in scam phone calls purporting to be from the Social Security Administration. In these calls, the call recipient is told that their Social Security number has been linked to criminal activity and has been suspended. The caller asks to confirm their Social Security number so that they may reactivate the number or issue a new number (for a fee, of course!). There are also fraudulent calls that in which the caller purports to have good news about a cost of living adjustment. The AARP also notes that fraudsters send emails that appear to be from the SSA and, ironically, ask the recipient to click on a link to help protect them from fraud. In addition to attempting to charge you money, the scammers may also attempt to use your Social Security number for identify theft purposes.
In April of 2019, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), a consumer protection agency, reported fraudulent calls claiming to be from the SSA had grown to the point of surpassing fraudulent calls purporting to be from the IRS. According to the FTC, scam calls may actually show up on caller ID as the Social Security Administration and look like the agency’s real number. This is achieved through a process known as “spoofing”. However, the SSA will not contact you out of the blue. Moreover, the threat of consequences like an arrest or loss of benefits or suspension of your Social Security number if you do not provider payment or personal information should also serve as a red flags.
You can call the SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213 to find out if the SSA is really trying to reach you and why. If you have already given out your Social Security number or other personal information to a caller, you can visit IdentifyTheft.gov/SSA to find out what steps you can take to protect your credit and your identify.