Arizonans are being warned about con artists pretending to be from the Social Security Administration. According to the Attorney General’s Office, the crooks scheme to obtain victims’ Social Security numbers and access to their financials.
The AG reports that in many cases, scammers have gone so far as spoofing the Social Security Administration (SSA’s) number so as to appear to be from the government.
There are several versions of the scam. In one, the caller claims your Social Security number has been linked to a crime or an illegal activity. The caller says that your number has been blocked and that you will need to pay a fee to reactivate it. Social Security does not suspend or block numbers, ever.
In another variation, the caller claims someone has used your Social Security number and your bank account could be seized. The caller urges you to quickly withdraw or transfer your money (sometimes onto gift cards) and will either take your money or gain access to your bank account.
In other versions of the scam, fraudsters might claim that SSA computers are not working properly or they are trying to refer you to enroll in the Medicare prescription drug program. You should not provide any personal information to these individuals.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently noted that SSA scams are on the rise. In 2017, the FTC heard from 3,200 people about SSA impostor scams, with victims reportedly losing nearly $210,000. In 2018, more than 35,000 people reported a SSA scam, losing $10 million.
The FTC is also working to address this issue. Consumers can find several additional tips on the FTC blog.
If you ever have any questions about the legitimacy of a call from someone saying they are from the SSA, hang up and call the SSA directly at 1(800)772-1213 to verify legitimacy and the reason for the contact.