Have you received phone calls stating your Social Security Number (SSN) has been linked to criminal activity and suspended? 

Then you might have been the victim of a scam call! People all over the nation are reporting to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that they have received phone calls trying to wrangle personal information out of them, steal their benefits or both. 

One of the most common tactics involves scammers posing as SSA employees that are contacting customers with warnings that their SSN had been linked to criminal activity and suspended. The scammer then asks you to confirm your SSN so they can reactivate it or issue a new one for a fee. This is just a ploy to steal your money and personal information. The Social Security Administration never blocks or suspends numbers. 

However, they have also been known to attempt a happier scenario: a supposed SSA representative will call you bearing good news--say, a cost-of-living increase in your benefits. But to get the extra money, you must verify your name, date of birth and SSN. With that information, scammers can effectively hijack your account and divert your benefits from you… to them. 

Despite this sounding scary at first, there are several warning signs that can alert you to this threat before it is too late:

•You get an unsolicited call from someone claiming to work for SSA. Except in rare circumstances, you will not get a call from Social Security unless you have already been in contact with the agency.

•The caller asks for your Social Security Number. An SSA employee would never ask for your SSN.

•A call or email threatens consequences, such as arrest, loss of benefits or suspension of your Social Security number, if you do not provide a payment or personal information.

If you suspect you are the victim of such a scam, please DO:

•Hang up the phone if someone calls you out of the blue and claims to be from SSA.

•Remain skeptical if a caller claims to be an “officer with the Inspector General of Social Security.” Scammers appropriate official-sounding and often actual government titles to make a ruse seem authentic.

•Install a robocall-blocking app on your smartphone or sign up for a robocall-blocking service from your mobile network provider to prevent them from contacting you again. 

And remember, DON’T:

•Don’t call a phone number left on your voicemail by a robocaller. If you want to contact SSA, call the customer-service line at 1-800-772-1213.

• Don’t assume a call is legitimate because it appears to come from 1-800-772-1213. Scammers use “spoofing” technology to trick 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.

• Don’t give any part of your Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers to anyone who contacts you. 

You can report the scam call to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.

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