Have you gotten a call with a recorded message, or maybe from an actual person, that claims your social security number is going to be suspended? The caller may even threaten to issue an arrest warrant.
They’ll usually give you a number to call in order to correct the problem. If you call, they’ll ask you to verify your social security number, give them your bank account numbers, or even withdraw all your money and buy gift cards with it.
This call is a government imposter scam. One that’s been going around for a few years. In 2018, over 35,000 people were targeted by this social security scam. And, this scam has cost people over $19 million.
If you’ve already gotten a call like this, do not respond. The goal is to trick you into giving up your social security, bank, and credit card information.
If you’ve already responded to one of these calls, call your bank and ask to speak to someone about how to secure your accounts after the compromise. You may also want to look into a social security and credit monitoring service.
Here’s what you need to know about these calls, and how to avoid being a victim of one of these scams.
Why your social security number is never suspended
The Social Security Administration does not suspend social security numbers. Even if you commit a crime, your social security number stays valid and active. It has to. Government agencies use your social security number to track tax payments, credit scores, unemployment account balances, and a bunch of other stuff.
The Social Security Administration can’t just turn off your social security number.
The only reason that the Social Security Administration will call you is if you’ve already contacted them. If you have an open case, the Social Security Administration may call you to move the case forward. However, the government usually conducts business via postal mail.
So, the Social Security Administration will never call to:
- Ask you to wire money to them.
- Ask you to send cash.
- Tell you to put all your money on gift cards.
- Threaten to revoke social security benefits.
- Threaten to seize bank accounts.
- Verify your social security number.
Sometimes, the calls will be from the actual Social Security Administration phone number. The number is: 1-800-772-1213. However, scammers can spoof the Social Security Administration phone number.
Spoofing is faking a phone number. Scammers use spoofing to make their scam calls appear legitimate. Scammers can also use spoofing to send scam emails that appear to be from a government email address.
Anyone who calls or emails and asks you to send money, verify your social security number, or give them your bank information is a scammer. There are no exceptions.
The only reason that the Social Security Administration or a bank will ask for your social security number or bank account information is if you call them. They do this to verify that it’s really you who’s calling.
But, banks and the SSA will never call you to verify personal information. They already have it. So, never give that information to anyone who calls you and asks for it.
What to do if you get a call claiming your social security number will be suspended
Scammers don’t have any real authority over your social security number, bank accounts, or anything else. So, you can safely hang up on them. There’s no way for them to harm you for ignoring them.
However, you can be proactive, if you’re not comfortable simply ignoring the call.
- If you’re concerned that the call may be somehow legitimate, call the Social Security Administration to verify that there’s actually a problem. You can call them at: 1-800-772-1213
- You can also report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission. Give them the number that the scam call came from, if you can.
If you’re feeling really vigilant, you can do a reverse phone lookup on the phone number. The reverse phone lookup may provide useful information for finding the scammer. But, only if the number isn’t spoofed.
Now, they may never catch the scammers. Many phone scammers are located outside the United States. So, they’re difficult to apprehend. But, the FTC can’t even try to find the scammers if they don’t know. You might as well give the FTC as much information as possible.
After that, there’s not much else you need to worry about. Scammers make thousands of scam calls a day. If you just hang up, they just move on. If you get called about it again, it’s probably a different scammer.
So, rest easy knowing that it doesn’t take any real effort to protect yourself from these scams. Just hang up.