Sections on this page
- What is the Social Security Call Scam?
- How to Beat and Avoid Social Security Scam Calls
- Social Security Scam Call Examples
- Fallen for the Social Security Scam Call?
- Frequently Asked Questions
The key thing to remember to beat Social Security scam calls is that the Social Security Administration will never call you and ask for personal information or inform you of problems with your account or payments. If you receive a phone call like this, simply hang up and don't ever give them your personal details.
What is the Social Security Call Scam?
The Social Security scam call is an example of a person impersonating the Social Security Administration (SSA) with the intent to mislead victims into giving them personal information and/or money. In some cases, scam calls from Social Security imposters may cause you to lose hundreds or thousands of dollars.
You Receive a Call from the “SSA”
A person impersonating the SSA will call you from an unknown number or a spoofed government number.
A “spoofed” number means that the scammer will use a legitimate government number so that it appears on your caller ID. It may say something like “IRS” or “Social Security Administration” on your caller ID, making you think that the call is from a real government agency.
The scammers present themselves as government employees and give you a reason for contacting you. The caller can claim someone stole your identity, or there’s another problem with your Social Security number (SSN), account, or benefits.
This call is regarding your Social Security number. We found some fraudulent activities under your name. Please press "1" now to connect with one of our representatives now.
You Are Asked for Information and/or Money
Depending on the reason for the call, the scammer will ask you for personal information, money, or both. The person impersonating the SSA may ask you to provide your Social Security number to confirm your identity.
They may also demand money using a payment method that is difficult to trace, such as:
- Retail gift cards
- Prepaid debit cards
- Wire transfers
- Money transfer app
The Scammer Steals Your Identity and/or Your Money
After the scammer asks for your information, they might try to use your details to steal your identity. They can also use it to steal your money, either by using your credit card details to make purchases posing as you or by keeping any money you sent to them.
Stealing your identity is also known as identity theft. This occurs when someone uses your personal or financial information without your permission. A scammer may ask for information such as your:
- Credit card or bank account numbers
- Social Security number
Scammers ask for this information so they can impersonate you by buying things with your credit card or opening new lines of credit (e.g., credit cards or loans) in your name.
How to Beat and Avoid Social Security Scam Calls
If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from the Social Security Administration, you should hang up the call immediately. Next, you should report details of the call to the SSA.
To prevent fraud, you can also create a My Social Security account. Creating this account will help you keep track of your Social Security records, but it also allows you to identify any suspicious activity. If a caller impersonates the SSA and tells you that you owe fees, for example, you can use your account to confirm the amounts you owe.
The Social Security Administration won't ever call you unless you have a phone appointment with them. They will send mail in the first instance if they need to contact you. But beware, there are Social Security scams that start with scam letters also.
Red Flags of Social Security Scam Calls
One of the best ways to beat this Social Security scam is to understand how the real SSA will interact with you if there is actually a problem. Generally, the SSA will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with them. In most cases, the SSA will initiate contact with you by mailing you a letter, not by calling you.
Keep in mind that the SSA only sends emails or text messages if you have opted in to receive them. This includes when you have subscribed with Social Security to receive updates and notifications by text or email. They may also contact you as part of Social Security’s enhanced security when accessing your personal My Social Security account.
Signs of a scam caller include someone:
- Asking for a return call to an unknown number
- Saying your SSN has been or will be suspended
- Demanding immediate payment from you
- Requiring payment by cash, gift card, prepaid debit card, internet currency, or wire transfer
- Asking for gift card numbers over the phone or to wire or mail cash
- Promising a benefit in exchange for personal information or money
Social Security Scam Call Examples
Scam calls from social security imposters can come in a variety of formats. You should look out for some typical things that scammers say during these types of calls.
Problems with Your Social Security
Someone impersonating the SSA may call and tell you about a problem with your Social Security number or account. In this case, they may ask you to confirm information like providing your full SSN. The scammers make you think you are providing this information to verify your identity, but they are actually capturing your Social Security number as a part of the scam.
Immediate Payment Using Specific Tenders
If someone calls you and asks you to pay a fine or debt immediately, it should be a red flag that it is a scam call. In addition, SSA imposters will ask for specific forms of payments that the real SSA does not accept. You should be suspicious of any call asking you to pay a fine or debt with retail gift cards, wire transfers, pre-paid debit cards, internet currency, or by mailing cash.
The Scammer Threatens You
Remember that the SSA will never call and threaten you with arrest or other legal action. Recently, a scammer who claimed to be a deputy with the SSA contacted an 83-year-old woman. The SSA imposter requested her Social Security number and threatened arrest for non-compliance.
Fallen for the Social Security Scam Call?
If you suspect that someone victimized you with the Social Security scam call, you can contact the OIG, issuing bank, or credit bureaus. Who you contact depends on the information you provided or what you believe was obtained by the scammer.
Report the Social Security Scam Calls to the SSA
If you’ve fallen victim to a Social Security scam, report it to the SSA:
- By calling 1-800-269-0271
If you can, provide as much information as possible, including specific details about the alleged suspect(s) and/or victim(s) associated with the Social Security scam call. In addition, if possible, include the following information:
- Telephone number
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
It’s also helpful to the investigators if you include facts about the alleged fraud, such as:
- Description of the fraud
- The location where the fraud took place
- When the fraud took place
- How the scammers committed the fraud
- Why the person committed the fraud (if known)
- Who else knows of the potential violation
Report the Scam to Your Bank/Financial Institution
If someone scammed you and got information like your credit card or bank account numbers, contact your issuing bank to report that your information has been compromised. You should also cancel your credit card and order a card with a new number.
Contact Credit Bureaus
If you feel like your identity may be stolen, you can contact the major credit bureaus to set up fraud alerts and/or freeze your credit. The three credit bureaus you’ll need to contact are:
Place a Fraud Alert
A fraud alert is helpful because it makes it harder for someone impersonating you to open a new credit account in your name. This is because it requires a business to verify your identity before it issues new credit in your name.
To place a fraud alert on your credit report, contact one of the credit bureaus. They will alert the other two to place a fraud alert also.
Freeze Your Credit
Freezing your credit will also prevent other people from opening up accounts in your name. If anyone tries to apply for a credit card or loan in your name while your credit is frozen, the credit bureau will typically alert you (usually by mail). Keep in mind that you also cannot apply for any new accounts while it is frozen. However, you can always unfreeze your credit temporarily when you need.
To freeze your credit, you need to contact all three credit bureaus individually.