Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford warns consumers about a growing phone scam involving individuals impersonating the Social Security Administration to obtain victims’ Social Security numbers, personal information and access to financials. In many instances, these scammers are able to spoof or impersonate the Social Security Administration’s caller ID to appear more legitimate.
Reports of this scam include many variations, all with the same goal of obtaining your personal information. In one version, the caller may claim your Social Security number has been blocked, suspended or canceled because it has been linked to suspicious activity. The caller then asks you to pay a fee to reactivate it, or to receive a new number. In another variation, the caller may claim that your Social Security number has been used to apply for credit cards, and you are in danger of losing your benefits. Oftentimes, the initial call is a serious, pre-recorded person attempting to create a sense of urgency to contact the so-called Social Security Administration.
In all variations of this scam, the imposter may also ask you to verify your Social Security number. Keep in mind that your Social Security number is a unique identifier that should be kept private, as it can be used to open accounts or to receive benefits in your name. Callers may also leave voicemail messages for their victims, urging them to immediately call back. Example voicemails of this scam are available here and here.
“Scammers are using scare tactics and the trusted name of Social Security to steal your personal information,” said AG Ford. “Just this week I received a Social Security Administration scam phone call, and the Federal Trade Commission has reported over $17 million in losses this year resulting from this scam. Nobody’s phone number is safe, and it’s important for all Nevadans to be cautious when speaking to unknown callers, even if they recognize the caller ID. Legitimate government agencies will not threaten you or demand access to your financial information over the phone.”
The Social Security Administration scam is the number one scam being reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this year. Individuals have filed nearly 73,000 reports about Social Security imposters in the first six months of 2019, amounting to $17 million in reported losses.
AG Ford and his Bureau of Consumer Protection offer the following tips to recognize this dangerous scam:
· The Social Security Administration will never call and ask you to confirm your Social Security Number, ask you to pay or threaten your benefits;
· Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize. Be aware that ever though your caller ID might show that the Social Security Administration is calling, numbers are easily spoofed;
· Avoid giving your Social Security number, the last four digits, or financial information to anyone who calls you; and
· The Social Security Administration will never call and ask you to wire money, send cash, or provide gift cards. Always be suspicious of any callers who ask to be paid in this manner.
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration asking for your Social Security number or financial information, hang up and report the information to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General on its website. You may also report all government imposter scams to the Federal Trade Commission on its Complaint Assistant website.