The Social Security Administration (SSA) and its Office of Inspector General are warning the public about a new caller-ID “spoofing scheme misusing the federal agency’s customer service number. Last week, the agency reported that an increase complaint about questionable phone calls displaying SSA’s 1-800 number on a caller-ID screen were reported. “This is a scam,” says SSA, warning seniors to not engage with those callers or provide personal information.
Kim Komando, called “America’s Digital Goddess,” who is a successful radio host on IT technology, says that these scammers are using VOIP (voice-over-IP) and phone spoofing software to impersonate a phone number’s caller ID. This means they could make any call show up on your phone as if it is coming from a familiar person, company or organization.
According to SSA, these reports indicate the calls display the 1-800-772-1213, SSA’s national customer service number, as the incoming number on your cell phone’s caller ID. Those who answered these calls say that the caller identifies him or herself as an SSA employee. In some instances, the caller states that agency does not have all of the person’s personal information, such as their SSN number on file (can you imagine that!) Other callers claim SSA requires additional information so the agency can increase the person’s benefit payment, or that SSA will terminate the person’s benefits if they do not confirm their information.
SSA Employees Will Never Threaten You
Gale Stallworth Stone, the Acting Inspector General of Social Security, says that agency employees do not contact beneficiaries by telephone for customer-service purposes, and in some situations, an SSA employee may request the beneficiary to confirm personal information over the phone. However, SSA employees will never threaten you for information or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up, she says.
“This caller-ID spoofing scheme exploits SSA’s trusted reputation, and it shows that scammers will try anything to mislead and harm innocent people,” Stone said, in the Oct. 23 statement. “I encourage everyone to remain watchful of these schemes and to alert family members and friends of their prevalence. We will continue to track these scams and warn citizens, so that they can stay several steps ahead of these thieves.”
Stone urges beneficiaries to be extremely cautious, and to avoid providing information such as your SSN or bank account numbers to unknown persons over the phone or internet unless you are certain of who is receiving it. If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from SSA, you should report that information to the OIG at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.