Tax season is over, and consumers are breathing a sigh of relief. With guards down, now is the perfect time for scammers to strike. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning people about suspicious calls as scammers are increasing efforts to steal personal information and Social Security numbers in order to file fraudulent tax returns.
Scammers call pretending to be from some type of government agency, usually the Social Security Administration (SSA). They’ll tell you your Social Security Number (SSN) has been compromised, and the caller needs you to confirm your number in order to fix the situation. If you hesitate or don’t give the number, the scammer will start to get aggressive and threaten to have your Social Security blocked or benefits revoked.
Regardless of what the scammer tells you, their goal is to scare you into giving up personal information so they can steal your money. One Texas victim reported to BBB ScamTracker losing nearly $600 to one of these scams. Social Security imposters are only increasing — in a report released by the FTC in April, data showed more than 76,000 people reported Social Security scams in the last 12 months. With fraud like this on the rise, BBB has tips on how to keep yourself safe:
- Never give personal information to unsolicited callers. If someone you don’t know contacts you without your permission, or for a reason you don’t know about, refuse to tell them your personal information.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Remember, the internet has made it possible for scammers to spoof caller ID and create a fake display for themselves. Even if a call says it’s from the SSA, know that may not be accurate.
- Know the SSA will never call asking for your Social Security Number. If any caller claiming to be from the SSA asks for your Social Security Number, hang up. It is also important to remember that the SSA will never call asking you to pay anything or to threaten your benefits.
- Call the real SSA. If you are still unsure about the status of your Social Security, hang up and contact the real SSA yourself, explaining the situation. They can be reached at 1-800-772-1213.
- Report scams. If you’ve been contacted by a scammer claiming to be from the SSA, report them at BBB.org/ScamTracker or at FTC.gov/Complaint.
To learn more about Social Security scams, visit bbb.org.