The scam generally starts like this. You answer a call or retrieve a voicemail message that tells you to “press 1” to speak to a government “support representative” for help in reactivating your Social Security number. The number on your caller ID looks real, so you respond. The “agent” you reach tells you that your Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity or because it has been involved in a crime.
You’re worried. You know how important it is to keep your Social Security number safe. So when the caller asks you to confirm this number to reactivate it, or says your bank account is about to be seized but the Social Security Administration (SSA) can safeguard it if you put your money on gift cards and provide the codes, you don’t know what to do. If you balk, you may be reminded that if you don’t act quickly, your accounts will be seized or frozen.
Although none of this is true (the SSA will never threaten to seize benefits or suspend numbers), many people have fallen for the Social Security imposter scam, and the numbers are rising. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), more than 76,000 reports of the Social Security imposter scam were filed between April 2018 and March 2019. Reported losses during this period were $19 million, and almost half of the reports were filed in February and March 2019.1
Here are some tips directly from the FTC to help you avoid becoming a victim.
Do not trust caller ID. Scam calls may show up on caller ID as the Social Security Administration and look like the agency’s real number.
Don’t give the caller your Social Security number or other personal information. If you already did, visit IdentityTheft.gov/SSA to find out what steps you can take to protect your credit and your identity.
Check with the real Social Security Administration. The SSA will not contact you out of the blue. But you can call the agency directly at (800) 772-1213 to find out if the SSA is really trying to reach you and why. (You can trust this number if you call it yourself.)
1FTC Consumer Protection Data Spotlight, April 2019
Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2019.
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by LFC), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from LFC. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. LFC is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the LFC’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request. If you are an LFC client, please remember to contact LFC, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services.