While phone scams have been around for years, they continue to be perpetrated because people fall for them. Odds are, if you cast a wide enough net, someone will be caught in it. 

Just today, a colleague of mine notified me that while she was in a meeting, her cell phone rang and caller ID indicated the call was from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). She answered, and was greeted by a recording informing her that her Social Security benefits were going to be seized and she should continue on the call in order to provide information to clear up the issue. Luckily, my colleague is quite savvy about fraud scams, and she hung up immediately. However, scams continue because many people are not so shrewd. 

This particular scam utilized a method called spoofing, whereby the number that shows up on caller ID appears to be from a legitimate party, and in this case was the actual public phone number of the Social Security Administration. However, the call is not from this number or the SSA. The SSA has issued warnings about this scam, and advises that it is highly unlikely they will contact you by phone to resolve a customer service issue. However, if they do, it is possible the SSA representative will ask you to verify certain personal information. Should this occur, the SSA assures that their representatives will never threaten you for information or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information. If you happen to receive a call from someone claiming to be a SSA representative, and you are not certain whether it is legitimate, do not share any personal information, hang up the phone immediately, and call the agency at a telephone number you know is authentic, 1-800-772-1213.

Please spread the word about these types of scams, especially to elderly friends and family members who may not be in the habit of exercising skepticism when they receive threatening calls. Few, if any, governmental organizations will make unsolicited calls to threaten your benefits and elicit personal information. It is wise to refuse to share this information and ask for assistance from a trusted friend or family member. You are encouraged to report any suspicious calls to the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.