Protect Yourself From Social Security Number Spoofing Scams
View a video from the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General on how to prevent fraud. Also, read a recent Social Security blog post: IG Warns Public About Caller ID ‘Spoofing’ of Social Security Fraud Hotline Phone Number
Voicemail – Social Security Scam Audio
Audio transcript: This is the SSN department. My name is Officer Katherine Richardson and this call is regarding to your Social Security Number. Weve found some fraudulent activities under your name. To know more information please call us back on this number: 660-XXXX. I repeat 660-XXXX Thank you.
Nearly all of your financial and medical records are connected to your Social Security number, which is why data thieves are constantly trying to nab it for use in fraud schemes or for selling it illicitly.
Robocall scammers use spoofing to deliberately falsify the caller ID that appears on your phone, disguising their identities in attempts to steal your Social Security number and other valuable personal information.
Often the scammers spoof a Social Security Administration phone number so you’ll think it’s the agency calling. SSA blog posts alert consumers to this spoofing scam and new twists phone scammers use to convince consumers they’re legit.
There are simple steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of a spoofing scam. Follow the helpful tips in the FCC’s consumer guide on spoofing, such as:
Fraudulent Friendly Service Phone Calls
Another type of scam call attempts to sell services to the recipient that the SSA readily provides at no charge. The caller might, for example, offer to provide a new Social Security card, enroll a new family member in the program, or provide a record of Social Security contributions to date, along with the expected future income they will yield.
Social Security Phone Number Spoofing: How It Works
In the past, caller ID was enough to know if youre being scammed. For example, a caller would claim to be a government official, but the number on your screen is from overseas.
But now, theres number spoofingâwhere scammers replace the number theyre calling from with any number thats convenient to their ploy. Unethical marketers might use a number thats similar to yours, so you think its a neighbor and you pick up. Or, in the case of Social Security scam calls, the caller ID says its from a Social Security Administration office.
Unfortunately, fraudsters can pull off this trick pretty easily and cheaply, thanks to readily available open-source spoofing software. The spoofing technology can operate over public switched telephone network or voice over internet protocol , which is more vulnerable. Some spoofing technologies can manipulate the communications network in such a way that even the phone company operator cant tell whats going on.
While number spoofing can be legal in some cases , doing so with the intention to defraud is not, according to the Federal Communication Commissions Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009.
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Fake Emails And Phishing
Victims can also be reeled in by phishing emails that appear to be messages from the SSA. The emails may have attachments that resemble actual letters from the SSA, complete with the agency’s seal and similar font styles. The email messages may also direct readers to a fake web page designed to look like the real SSA website.
The motive is to obtain personal information from you, which you should never provide. The same clues of fraudulent intent as with the phone calls apply here. The SSA says that legitimate emails from the agency never seek personal information and do not adopt an alarmist or threatening tone.
Use Another Way Of Getting In Touch
If you ever get an unsolicited SMS from a contact you dont recognize , you should treat it like a suspicious email asking you for money, says Ryan Toohil, CTO of Aura. Dont ever click on a link if there is one.
If your phone receives no signal or says, emergency calls only, even after restarting the phone, use another phone to call your provider and have them check the status immediately, advises Hanson.
If you receive a suspicious message but still think it might be from a friend or colleague, Toohil says to reach out to them to confirm via another meanswhether that be calling their phone, Slacking them, emailing them, etc.
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You Gave Your Social Security Number Away
If you suspect somebody has your Social Security Number — whether they stole it from a company or you gave it to them voluntarily — it’s important to set up credit monitoring. Typically your bank or the company that was breached will provide this to you for free.
You generally shouldn’t pay for credit monitoring, as high quality free products have proliferated in the marketplace particularly after the incident at Equifax. Paid credit monitoring services can be tricky to cancel, and you can typically achieve the same level of service with a free product.
Set up alerts so you know the instant anything changes with your credit score — you can usually do this through the credit monitoring program offered by your bank or credit card company, which is almost always a free service. Some of these services are free even if you’re not a customer of the bank, such as Capital One’s Credit Wise. In fact, you may want to do this anyway — monitoring your credit in this manner is good for everyone, not just victims of cybercrime.
If you provided a scammer with your Social Security Number directly, or you already think your number was used fraudulently, you will need to act more urgently. You can place a credit freeze on your account with the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Transunion and Experian.
How To Tell If Its Legitimate Or A Scam
Scammers are aware that people are catching on to their attempts, so theyre coming up with new ways to convince Social Security beneficiaries that their frauds are legitimate. Heres what to watch for so you can protect yourself and others from Social Security scams.
1. Threatening arrest or legal action: If you receive a threatening phone call claiming that theres an issue with your Social Security number or benefits, its a scam. The Social Security Administration will never threaten you with arrest or other legal action if you dont immediately pay a fine or fee.
2. Emails or texts with personally identifiable information: If theres a legitimate problem with your Social Security number or record, the SSA will mail you a letter to notify you of any issues.
3. Misspellings and grammar mistakes: If the caller follows up with emails containing falsified letters or reports that appear to be from the SSA or SSAs OIG, look closely. The letters may use government “jargon” or letterhead that appears official in order to help convince victims, but they may also contain misspellings and grammar mistakes.
5. Offers to increase benefits in exchange for payment: Similarly, SSA employees will never promise to increase your Social Security benefits, or offer other assistance, in exchange for payment.
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Got A Robocall From The Ssa Office Asking You To Call Back Heres What You Need To Do
You can call back the number only if youre verified the validity of the call.
The Social Security Administration and Office of the Inspectors General employees can contact U.S. citizens by telephone, and they can also request them to confirm their personal information over the phone. However, the government agency stated on their blog that when they do call, it will not appear on caller ID as the Fraud Hotline number of 269-0271. They will also never threaten you with any sort of official action in exchange for divulging your personal information or receiving payment.
Social Security Scam Robocall
The general rule is thisif you are asked to give your social security number over a robocall, its not a legitimate call.
The most frequent types of social security-related scams involve an automated message informing you that your social security number has been compromised and linked to criminal activity, or that your social security benefits will expire.
Alternatively, the callers can claim youre entitled to a rise in your social security benefits, but would first need to confirm your name, date of birth, and social security number. Once they are equipped with this information, the scammers can hijack your Social Security account and drain your money out of it.
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Mine Your Private Data
The easiest way for scammers to use your phone number maliciously is by simply typing it into a people search site, like WhoEasy, Whitepages, or Fast People Search. These sites can reveal personal information about you in less than a few seconds, according to tech expert Burton Kelso.
People search sites purchase your personal information and then sell it to people who want your data, like hackers. The information found through these sites includes your address, bankruptcies, criminal records, and family members names and addresses. All of this can be used for blackmail, stalking, doxxing, social media hacking, or identity theft.
When In Doubt Dont Click
Phone hijacking can also happen via phishing attacks. Hanson warns against clicking on suspicious links. Malware embedded in links can secretly download on your device. When in doubt, open a browser and type in the address you wish to visit. And if you suspect a text is malicious or phishing, delete texts immediately. And heres how to stop spam texts and stop robocalls.
Tempted to take a break from your online life? Heres how to disappear completely from the internet.
Additional reporting by Alina Bradford.
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Social Insurance Number Scam: How It Works
Beware of a new Social Insurance Number scam going around nationwide. It comes as one of the many Service Canada scam calls done by crooks saying that your Social Insurance Number has been suspended. Later on, in this article, we have an audio recording of a crook who happened to call our number at Scam Detector.
Anyway, you can rest assured that these criminals are not from the Government of Canada. Lets dive in.
The phone rings. You respond. An automated system something like this:
Hello, this call is from the Government of Canada. We have got an order to suspend your Social Insurance Number on an immediate basis because your social has been found suspicious for some illegal and criminal activity. It is time-sensitive and urgent to hear back from you before we proceed with the suspension of your Social Insurance Number or assets. Please press 1 to speak with our officer, thank you.
Listen to the audio file below to hear a scammer who called our number:
The phone number used was 430-2860, but dont get fooled criminals change these numbers very often, as soon as one has been reported.
So, how does the Social Insurance Number scam works? Lets see.
In 2020 Victims Were Swindled Out Of Nearly $45 Million In Social Security
This is the story of how my sister nearly fell for a Social Security scam. Her panicked call to me as she was on the line with a criminal trying to steal her money illustrates just how people fall for this type of fraud.
No doubt youve received a similar call, either from an individual or a recorded voice, claiming your Social Security number has been compromised because of criminal activity. You are told unless you respond immediately usually by sending money, buying gift cards or revealing bank account details youll be arrested or your Social Security number will be suspended.
Its a lie, but one that is so believable, last year victims were swindled out of nearly $45 million, with an average individual loss of $5,800, according to the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. More than 700,000 complaints of Social Security-related telephone scams were filed in 2020. A suburban Chicago man pleaded guilty early this year to laundering cash from a scheme that defrauded elderly victims. The scam allegedly conned an elderly Massachusetts woman out of $900,000 that she was urged to transfer from her bank and retirement accounts.
Social Security numbers cant be suspended. No government agency will ask you to pay with gift cards. The feds will never threaten arrest or legal action unless you immediately send cash.
This is what happened to my 62-year-old sister:
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Scam Alert: Fake Social Security Administration Warning About Your Social Security Number Being Compromised
A new variant of an old scam seems to have recently resurfaced, so here is a heads up:
Over the past two days I have received multiple phone calls from scammers, who, when I did not answer the calls, left a voicemail with only their phone number and a message to call back, but, who, when I answered their calls, purported to be the Social Security Administration , telling me with an automated message that my Social Security Number had been compromised, and that I should call the SSA to get more information and to learn how to address the issue. Of course, the number that they left me at which I was to call the SSA back does not belong to the SSA it belongs to the scammers, who then request that callers identify and authenticate themselves by providing various personal information.
Scams in which criminals impersonate the Social Security Administration are not new but, the recent calls were a bit more sophisticated than those placed to me in the past: The scammers used a recording that sounded professional and that employed perfect American English, did not say that my Social Security Number was suspended , and they did not threaten or attempt to scare me into action, seemingly impersonating SSA representatives far better than did their forebears. In short, the call sounded far more genuine then any others that I have previously received.
Social Security Combats Fraud
Social Security has zero tolerance for fraud. We diligently work at the national, regional, and local levels to combat fraud that undermines our mission to serve the American public.
To meet this challenge, we work closely with the Office of the Inspector General which investigates allegations of fraud and seeks to bring offenders to justice. The OIG refers cases to U.S. attorneys within the Department of Justice, and other state and local prosecuting authorities, for prosecution as a federal crimes.
Visit our OIGs Investigations page to view a list of recent fraud investigations.
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Service Canada Scam Exposed
First, the criminals use technology so that the smartphone shows Service Canada on its display. Consumers get intimidated easily. Scared by the fact that their SIN might be suspended, many Canadians press key 1 as requested by the caller. The question is, what happens if you do?
In that case, a real person the crook takes over the conversation. He uses official terms. After an introduction of some sort, he proceeds to require your personal information, just to prove your identity. As you can imagine, they will use this info for identity theft. You might be smart, but there are a lot of people who fall for these Service Canada scam calls.
What To Keep In Mind If You Get A Spam Call Thats Allegedly From The Ssa
The Federal Trade Commission put forward a few key points in response to the social security scam threat. Its important not to press any numbers on your keypad even if the robot tells you to, and to hang up as soon as you can. The FTC also wants you to stay assured that:
- Your Social Security number will not be suspended
- The real Social Security Administration will never threaten your benefits, especially not over an automated phone message
- You will never receive instructions from the real Social Security Administration to wire money, send cash, or put money on a gift card
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If You Receive A Suspicious Call Text Or Email:
If you receive a call, text, or email that you believe to be suspicious, about a problem with your Social Security number or account, do not respond or engage with the caller or sender. Report Social Security phone, email, and text scams through our dedicated online form.
If You Have Been Affected By A Data Breach
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the integrity of the SIN program from fraud and misuse. It takes any breach of information very seriously.
If you have been affected by a data breach, contact Canadas 2 major credit bureaus to monitor your file.
- Equifax: 1-800-465-7166
- TransUnion: 1-800-663-9980
Regularly review your banking and credit card statements, especially after the credit monitoring service ends.
If you notice any suspicious activity, immediately report it to the police, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and inform Service Canada. This will help reduce the potential impact.
Service Canada does not issue a new SIN for those affected by a data breach.
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