Want to protect yourself from identity theft and scams? Learn how during National Consumer Protection Week, the first week of March. This year, we at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have joined with Social Security to help protect you.
What’s the latest? Government imposter scams were the number one fraud reported to our Consumer Sentinel Network in 2019, with Social Security imposters leading the way. There were 166,190 reports about Social Security scams, with people reporting individual losses of about $1,500.
If you haven’t received one of these calls yet, here’s what the scam sounds like. Someone pretends to be a caller from Social Security. Caller ID may even display a Social Security office number. Sometimes the caller says your Social Security number has been suspended and you need to pay a fee to reactivate it. The caller may even say your Social Security number has been linked with a crime, and you need to take immediate steps to avoid being arrested or to protect the money in your bank account. Either way, when the person asks, do not provide your Social Security number. You also should not buy gift cards (and read them the number) or wire money.
How can you protect yourself from Social Security fraud? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Your Social Security number is not about to be suspended. You don’t have to verify your number to anyone who calls you out of the blue.
- Social Security will never tell you to put money on gift cards, wire money, or send cash. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can make it look like they’re calling from anywhere – even a real Social Security phone number.
If you get one of these calls, hang up! Do not provide any personal information or comply with any request for payment.
Want to learn more about how to protect yourself from Social Security imposter scams? Join us March 5 at 7:00 p.m. ET for a Facebook Live with Social Security. I’ll join Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for Social Security, to talk about how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from imposter scams.
If you already received one of these calls, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission. If it’s a Social Security imposter, please also report it to Social Security’s Office of Inspector General. If you gave your Social Security number to a scammer and are worried about identity theft, visit our Social Security Identity Theft website for what steps you can take toward recovery.
In the spirit of National Consumer Protection Week, please pass along these tips to friends and family – help them avoid scams, too.