It doesn’t matter where you live—fraudsters are lurking everywhere. And this time, they’re here to steal your Social Security number (and your bank account information!). Between April 2018 and March 2019, people filed more than 76,000 complaints about these Social Security imposters, reporting $19 million in losses. Here’s what you need to know about Social Security scams and how you can stay safe.
- The out-of-the-blue fraudulent phone call. In this latest round of Social Security frauds, your phone rings and the robo-like voice on the other end says your Social Security number has been compromised due to suspicious activity. The fraudsters ask you to verify your identity, which is how they collect the additional personal information they need to steal your identity. Some fraudsters even tell scam victims they’ll be arrested!
- A “phishy” email from the so-called “Social Security Administration (SSA).” If you’ve just received an email from the SSA, think twice before clicking on the links or giving out private details. Social Security fraudsters love to send out emails “phishing” for information to get one step closer to stealing your financial information. Some pretend to be government employees asking you to update your information due to a cyber-attack while other emails appear to offer new features that will help you monitor your credit report and Social Security number. Always go directly to the source (like the SSA website) to verify the information rather than clicking on links in unsolicited emails.
- The direct mail scam tricking you out of your Social Security money. If you receive a letter from the SSA, be careful! Although the letter may appear legit, it may have a fraudster’s fingerprints all over it. In one scam, fraudsters try to convince you that you’re going to lose your Social Security money. Or, the letter may offer an extra Social Security check for confirming your identity.
What you can do
The next time you receive a suspicious phone call, email or letter, remember these important tips from Fraud.org and the Federal Trade Commission:
- Stranger danger applies to phone calls too! Never provide your Social Security number or your personal information to someone you don’t know. Whether it’s a phone call, email or letter, scammers are always trying to fool you. Always ask for callback information and take some time to verify the information before sharing personal details.
- Don’t believe the caller ID. Through caller ID spoofing, scammers can easily make it look like they’re calling you from the SSA’s number. When in doubt, ask for their name and a callback number.
- Don’t panic—Social Security won’t suspend your number. Ever. But if you do receive a call threatening to suspend your number or requesting that you wire money, send gift cards or Bitcoin to keep your number active, report it!
If you think you were a victim of a Social Security scam, report it to the Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline at 800.269.0271 or online at oig.ssa.gov/report. You can also contact local law enforcement so they can make others aware.
How Verve can help
If you think your Verve account is at risk because of a Social Security or any other type of scam, call Verve at 800.448.9228. One of our team members can help check your account for purchases you did not make and safeguard your account against fraud.
It’s Verve’s goal—in line with our guiding seven Cooperative Principles—to provide education, training and information to help our members stay financially fit. Verve is committed to keeping our members educated when it comes to their finances by providing details on financial risks and ways to stay safe. Help your friends and family stay safe against Social Security scams by sharing this blog post.