Beware of New Social Security Phone Scam
The United States Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a warning about a new social security phone scam. This type of phone scam, known as a spoofing scam, uses a fake inbound callerID phone number to fool people into answering a phone call. The spoof calls appear to be originating from the US Social Security Administration’s (SSA) customer service line. The callers, posing as SSA employees then try to gather personal information, especially social security numbers, from their victims.
Complaints to the OIG report that the callers claim to be SSA employees. The scammers then urge the victims to tell them their Social Security numbers during the phone call. The fake employee justifies their request with false claims about missing social security numbers that may cause reduced benefits. In some calls the caller threatens to terminate social security benefits completely unless the requested information is handed over on the phone.
How Does the SSA Spoofing Scam Work?
Phone scammers use technology to make a caller ID numbers show any phone number they chose. They do this to trick people into answering the call as many won’t answer the phone if they do not recognize the phone number. In other words, the phone number that shows up on your caller ID is not necessarily where the call is really coming from. In this new SSA spoofing scam, the inbound calling phone number shows up as the Social Security Administrations customer service line, but it really isn’t. That real SSA customer service number is 1.800.772.1213. It is safe to call them. Calls in the other direction are the concern. If you see 1.800.772.1213 on your callerID, it is not necessarily legitimate.
How Can a Spoofing Scam Harm Me?
Spoofing scams are a form of a social engineering cyber attack. The scammers are trying to obtain more personal information about their targets. They begin with some low-level, easy to obtain information like a name and publicly listed phone number. That information can be obtained through public records or social media. The scammer then works on their victim and to get more highly personal data like birthdates, social security numbers, banking information, or account passwords. This can then be used to transfer money away from an individual or for identity theft.
How Do I Know if it’s a Legit Call from Social Security?
If someone calls you and asks for your Social Security number, the, it is probably a spoofed call and a scam. SSA employees do not make customer service phone calls. They also do not approve or deny any benefits over the phone.
What Do I Do If I Answer a Scam Spoof Social Security Call?
- Hang up on the caller immediately!
- Report the spoof call to OIG the OIG at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers