Social Security scams are among the most common types of telephone and digital fraud schemes. With more people guarding their finances because of the uncertainty presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, scams involving government-provided benefits can devastate entire bank accounts. You will never receive an unsolicited phone call from the Social Security Administration (SSA) unless you have already been in contact with them.
Fortunately, the SSA and other government agencies have online resources that offer ways to identify telephone call scams. For more insight on how to recognize attempts at fraud over the phone, contact the Khaki Law Firm.
To check whether a Social Security call is legitimate, you can call the SSA’s customer service line at 800-772-1213. You can report a Social Security scam online directly to the SSA or through the Federal Trade Commission. If you have already been exposed to identity theft, you can file a recovery report online.
Scammers commonly identify themselves as Social Security agents, often by using real-life employee information. After the introduction, the person on the phone may alert you that your identity has been compromised and is tied to serious illegal activity. The notice may threaten legal action unless you provide your Social Security information and/or pay for your record to be cleared.
DO NOT provide any sensitive Social Security information or pay them. This is a ploy to steal your identity, as an arrest warrant cannot be canceled through payment.
Most scams require you to pay for fees through gift cards or wire transfers. This allows the scammer to receive the money anonymously and in a way that can’t be traced. The SSA will never ask you to pay for anything in this manner.
If someone on the phone or online asks you to log onto your bank account or requires you to purchase gift cards to make a payment, do not go along with it. Always verify information with your bank before sending money to an unknown party online or over the phone.
Scams can take place over the phone, texts, email, website notifications, or social media. Many of these tactics use “spoofing” technology to make their own identifying information appear as that of a colleague, friend, or someone in your local area.
This is designed to make you think that you’re talking to someone you know or need to talk to. As such, caller identification and email name alone are not enough to identify a scammer. This also means that you should never provide personal information over the phone or via email to someone else, even if you know them.
COVID-19 opens up new opportunities for scammers. For example, our attorneys have seen scammers masquerading as charities or marketers offering COVID-19 treatments.
If you are uncertain about the legitimacy of an offer you receive online or over the phone, check out the following safety tips and conduct your own independent research:
If you fear repercussions for hanging up on what could be a real call from a Social Security Administration agent or another legitimate caller, don’t hesitate to contact the Khaki Law Firm. We can discuss your concerns and help you handle any potential issues that arise.
As always, be mindful of what information you share with those you may not know. Talking with others can help you identify telephone and online scams and save you the stress of being involved in fraud or identity theft.