Watch Out For Social Security Scammers

Your phone may be ringing soon with a fraudulent call from the “Social Security Administration” about problems with your social security number.  The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers about this fraud.  A transcript of a typical call is below.

“…law enforcement agencies to suspend your Social Security number on an immediate basis, as we have received suspicious trails of information in your name. The moment you receive this message, I need you to get back to me on my department division toll-free number that is 1-888-952-5554. I repeat 1-888-952-5554. Verify the last four digits of your Social Security number when you call to better assist you with this issue. Now, if I don’t hear a call from you, we will have to issue an arrest warrant under your name and get you arrested. So, get back to me as soon as possible. Thank you.”

Tactics of the current scam include:

  • Caller ID spoofing – The caller ID uses the real toll-free number of the Social Security Administration customer service line (800-772-1213), although the call-back number in the recorded message is different.
  • Unexpected caller – Unless you recently filed a claim with the SSA, no one is ever going to call you.
  • SSN is suspended – The caller will claim your social security number is suspended, but this just doesn’t happen.  SSN’s are forever and never get suspended.
  • Service fees – The caller may ask for a fee to “restore” or “reinstate” your SSN.
  • Payment information – You may be asked to provide a credit card or bank account number and routing number.
  • Criminal activity – Your SSN has been tied to a crime and you are in danger of arrest or deportation.
  • SSA system outage – The SSA computer system is down, and you need to supply information such as your SSN, mother’s maiden name, and banking information.

While SSA employees do sometimes contact citizens by telephone for customer-service purposes, and in some situations, an SSA employee may request the citizen confirm personal information over the phone.  However, SSA employees will never threaten to put a hold on your benefits, arrest or deport you, in exchange for information.  They will not promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent.  Your best response is to hang up the phone.

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About the Author:

Cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. Owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, Bob also conducts security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. Bob also teaches Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. Bob works as an instruction for CompTIA’s non-profit IT-Ready Program in the Twin Cities. IT-Ready is a tuition free 8-week program designed to teach students of all ages the fundamentals of IT support to prepare them for an entry level position in Information Technology Support. Graduates of the classes take the exams to become CompTIA A+ certified. Bob is a frequent speaker at conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. Bob has been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at http://wyzguyscybersecurity.com
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