You hear the phone ring and the caller ID says it’s from the Social Security Administration. When you pick up the phone, a voice on the other end says your Social Security account is about to be suspended unless you reveal some personal information. Don’t fall for it.
The Federal Trade Commission says these Social Security scam calls are on the rise. In fact, the FTC received 76,000 complaints in the last 12 months about this phone scam, up from just 3,200 complaints in 2017. Victims of this scam reported collective losses of $19 million in those 12 months, according to the FTC.
How can you protect yourself and keep your personal information safe? Check out some tips below.
- How to tell whether the call is a scam
- What should you do if someone tries this scam on you?
- What can you do to try to protect your personal information?
How to tell whether the call is a scam
There are a few tell-tale signs to look out for in this scam.
The fraudsters are going to pretend they’re from the Social Security Administration — and they’ll likely be pretty convincing. The callers often say that you need to provide highly personal information — like your full Social Security number — to prevent your account from being suspended.
The scammer may then ask you to withdraw money from a bank account and put it on a gift card to keep your Social Security or bank accounts from being seized.
If you get a call like this, hang up. This is a scam. The FTC says the Social Security Administration would never threaten your benefits or tell you to put money on a gift card, wire money or send cash.
What should you do if someone tries this scam on you?
The first thing you should do if you notice any of the red flags above is hang up. Remember, even if you answer a call from what appears to be the real Social Security Administration number, 1-800-772-1213, it could still be a scammer.
The safest thing to do is end the call and dial the number yourself so you can speak to a real Social Security employee and confirm whether the agency actually needs information from you.
If you do get one of these scam calls, you can file an online complaint with the FTC to help the agency warn others.
What can you do to try to protect your personal information?
The important thing to remember is that your personal information is yours, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to give it out. In addition to the tips above, there are some other ways to reduce your risk of scams in the digital age.
- Sign up for the FTC’s free scam alerts to stay on top of the latest scams.
- If you’re a Credit Karma member, you can use our free ID monitoring service to check whether your information has been exposed in another company’s public data breach.
- Keep your account passwords secure, and consider using a password management tool to develop stronger passwords and keep track of them.
Calculate your Social Security benefit
Use our Social Security calculator to find your estimated monthly Social Security benefit for when you retire.