Have you received one of those Social Security scam calls? You are not alone. Millions of Americans, especially seniors are being targeted by scam callers threatening them with various fraudulent schemes, including ones that say your Social Security number is not about to be suspended, or that there is a warrant out for your arrest, or a magistrate is about to take legal actions against you. If you’ve received one of these calls and are wondering what to do, we can help.
In this post, we will review examples of the most popular Social Security scams of 2021, including actual recordings of these calls, so that you can recognize them when they happen to you.
Next, we will review what you can do to protect yourself from these phone scams.
Also, we will provide you information on how to report these calls to the Social Security Administration and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Lastly, we will share tips on how to stop these calls.
This post will cover:
- The Growing Problem of Scam Calls
- Examples of Social Security Scam Calls
- How to Protect Yourself from Social Security Scams Calls
- Report Social Security Scams
- How to stop Social Security scam calls
The Growing Problem of Scam Calls
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there is a dramatic surge in Social Security imposters.
However, that is part of a larger problem of exponential growth in robocalls.
Over 26 billion robocalls were made to US phones in 2018, representing a 46 percent year-over-year growth.
In January 2021 alone, more than 4 billion robocalls targeted phones across the U.S., a 3.7% increase over the month of December.
Furthermore, during January 2021, robocalls averaged 129.5 million calls daily, or about 1,500 calls each second.
According to a recent report by USA Today, three out of 4 Americans said they were targeted by phone scammers over the past year.
The bombardment of robocalls, many of which come from scammers seeking to steal your money money, has led many to simply not answer their phone when the caller is unknown.
On average, those who fall for scam calls lose $182, with some losing more than $500.
Examples of Social Security Scam Calls
There are many types of Social Security Scam calls targeting seniors. Here are the top ones according to the FTC:
Scam #1 – Fraudulent/Suspicious Activity Phone Calls
This type of Social Security phone scam tries to impersonate a Social Security official, claiming to alert you about fraudulent activity on your Social Security account.
You are then instructed to call a phone number for more information on how to fix the issue.
This particular type of Social Security scam call is popular for obvious reasons:
First, nearly all of your financial and medical records are connected to your Social Security number.
That is why data thieves are constantly trying to steal your Social Security number and use it in fraud schemes or for selling something illicitly.
Examples of this type of Call
Listen to this audio of an actual scam call about supposedly fraudulent activity on a Social Security account.
The caller’s warning is 100 percent fake.
The real Social Security Administration does not contact you by phone to tell you about issues with your Social Security account.
Scam #2 – Your Social Security Benefits will End Phone Calls
The second type of scam call will tell you that your Social Security number is suspended and that your Social Security benefits will be canceled until you resolve the issue.
Example of this type of Call
Listen to this audio of an actual scam call about a supposedly compromised Social Security number.
The caller’s warning is 100 percent fake.
The real Social Security Administration does not suspend Social Security numbers.
If you get a call like this, do not press 1. Instead, just hang up and remember:
- Your Social Security number is not about to be suspended.
- The real Social Security Administration will never call to threaten your benefits.
- The real SSA will never tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on a gift card.
Scam #3 – Threatening Phone Calls
The third type of Social Security scam call is where scammers call with threats.
Here’s how this one works:
The caller indicates that there is a warrant for your arrest and suggests ways you can resolve the warrant issue.
Another variation of this type of call goes like this:
“There are legal enforcement actions which have been filed on your social security number involving fraudulent activities,” the recorded message will say.
The message will ask you to call them back or they will begin “legal proceedings” against you. If you do call, they will attempt to get you to “verify” or “confirm” your social security number.
Don’t ever give your social security number to anyone by phone, not even the last four digits.
The calls often involve people or robotic voices pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
They will typically try to get your Social Security number or demand money.
Also, they sometimes use “spoofing” techniques to make the genuine Social Security hotline number (1-800-772-1213) appear on the recipient’s caller ID screen.
The caller may also identify themselves using the name of an actual SSA official.
Example of this type of Call
The video below from the Social Security Administration explains how this type of call works, with testimonies from actual victims of this type of fraudulent calls:
Scam #4 – Fraudulent Friendly Service Phone Calls
The fourth type of Social Security scam call is friendly fraudulent calls.
With this type of call, the scammers will call you and try to sell you services the SSA readily provides at no charge.
Here are some of the Social Security services that scammers will call you and offer to provide you for a fee:
- Help you get a new Social Security card
- To help enroll a new family member in a Social Security program
- Provide a record of your Social Security contributions to date
How to Protect Yourself from Social Security Scams Calls
Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of Social Security fraud and scams:
First, your Social Security number is not about to be suspended.
You don’t have to verify your number to anyone who calls out of the blue. And your bank accounts are not about to be seized.
Second, the SSA will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards.
Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer.
Third, the real SSA number is 1-800-772-1213, but scammers are putting that number in the caller ID.
If you’re worried about what the caller says, hang up and call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to the real SSA.
Even if the wait time is long, confirm with the real SSA before responding to one of these calls.
Lastly, never give any part of your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you.
Furthermore, never give your bank account or credit card number to anyone that calls you over the phone.
How to report Social Security Scams
In addition, you can report it to the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) using the information below:
Also, if you have questions about any communication—email, letter, text, or phone call—that claims to be from SSA or the OIG, please contact your local Social Security office.
Furthermore, you can also call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213.
Agents are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to verify call or email legitimacy.
Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.
Click here to report your scam call to Social Security.
When you report your Social Security Scam call to the OIG online, you will be asked to fill out an online form and create a PIN.
Here’s why creating a pin is important:
Why you have to create a PIN when you report fraud online to Social Security Administration
When you report your Social Security Scam call online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report, you will be asked to create a five-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN).
To make sure the process is legitimate, and to help you identify that someone from the Social Security Administration is calling you back to follow-up about your scam complaint, you will be asked to create a PIN.
When someone from the OIG contacts you about your complaint, they will ask you for your 5 digit PIN.
The video below, from the Social Security Administration, does a great job of walking you through the process of how to report Social Security scam calls.
How to stop Social Security scam calls
While is it very hard to completely stop these Social Security scam calls to your phone, there are things you can do:
First, register your phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry.
You may register online or by calling 1-888-382-1222.
Also, you can register online at https://www.donotcall.gov.
If you still receive telemarketing calls after registering, there’s a good chance that the calls are scams.
However, be cautious of caller ID. Scammers can change the phone number that shows up on your caller ID screen. This is called “spoofing.”
Second, you can block the numbers the scammers are calling from.
However, they will likely just use another number the next time they call.
Next, if you want to try and help investigators catch the fraudsters, you have to report the calls using the information provided above.
Reporting these calls is important and they do yield results.
For example, because people reported very similar IRS call scams, the FBI arrested 60 people across the US who had tricked Americans out of hundreds of millions of dollars over 4 years.
Five ways to recognize a Social Security scam
Here are five ways you can spot a scam, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Scammers are aware that people are catching on to their attempts, so they’re coming up with new ways to convince Social Security beneficiaries that their frauds are legitimate.
Here’s what to watch for so you can protect yourself and others from Social Security scams.
1. Threatening arrest or legal action
If you receive a threatening phone call claiming that there is an issue with your Social Security number or Social Security benefits, it’s a scam.
Note that the real Social Security Administration (SSA) will never threaten you with arrest or other legal action if you don’t immediately pay a fine or fee.
2. Emails or texts with personally identifiable information
If you receive an email claiming to be from the SSA requesting your personal information, it’s a scam.
If there’s a legitimate problem with your Social Security number or record, the SSA will mail you a letter to notify you of any issues.
3. Misspellings and grammar mistakes
Scammers are getting smart and are sending follow-up emails and letters to appear to trick you into thinking you are actually dealing with the real Social Security Administration.
If the caller follows up with emails containing falsified letters or reports that appear to be from the SSA or SSA’s OIG, look closely.
The letters may use government “jargon” or letterhead that appears official in order to help convince victims.
However, typically these letters may also contain misspellings and grammar mistakes.
4. Requests for payment by gift or pre-paid card, cash, or wire transfer
You may receive calls requesting that you send money through wire transfer, prepaid card, or a gift card to the Social Security Administration. This is a scam.
If you do need to submit payments to the SSA, the agency will mail a letter with payment instructions and options through U.S. mail.
You should never pay a government fee or fine using retail gift cards, cash, internet currency, wire transfers, or pre-paid debit cards.
However, scammers ask for payment this way because it’s difficult to trace and recover.
5. Offers to increase benefits in exchange for payment
Lastly, scammers may call you offering you Social Security services for a fee.
It is important to remember this:
The Social Security Administration employees will never promise to increase your Social Security benefits, or offer other assistance, in exchange for payment.
Social Security Scam Calls Summary?
Here’s the bottom line on Social Security Scam Calls:
First, there are three types of calls that are now popular in 2021:
- Fraudulent/Suspicious Activity Phone Calls
- Your Social Security Benefits will End Phone Calls
- Threatening Phone Calls
You can report these calls to:
The Social Security Administration at:
Additionally, you can report them to the FTC at:
We hope this post on Social Security Scam Calls was helpful.
If you have further questions about Social Security Scams, Social Security, or Disability benefits, please let us know in the comments section below.
Be sure to check out our other articles on:
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Are Stimulus Checks Considered Taxable Income?
Second Stimulus check for $600: Update
Direct Express Stimulus Check Deposit Date
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2022 Social Security Payment Dates