BALTIMORE — The Social Security Administration has announced that scammers are calling citizens saying that the person’s social security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity. This call is a scam.
According to a press release from the Social Security Administration, calls impersonating the administration are happening nationwide. In that release, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Nancy A. Berryhill said, “We urge you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security number or bank account information to unknown people over the phone or Internet.”
In the current scam, a robotic voice informs the recipient that their social security number has been suspended. It then tells the person on the phone to press “1” to call into the administration’s fraud office to discuss the problem. According to the Federal Trade Commission, one’s social security number will not be suspended. Nor will Social Security robocall you to inform you of this. This is a variation of a common government representative scam that has been around for some time. Once the caller gets personal information, it can be used to steal someone’s identity.
The DuBois Social Security Office is aware of this problem. In their message as soon as someone calls in, it informs you of the scam and suggests calling the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271. Calling that number, however, leads to a confusing set of voice-activated directions that seem to take you away from filing the report. If you say you are a victim of identity fraud, they give you another number to call, the Federal Trade Commission. The simpler option is to fill out the form at the Office of the Inspector General’s website, www.oig.ssa.gov.
A call to the DuBois office typically has a 30-minute wait time, with the option to have a representative call back in around an hour.
The representative from the Social Security Administration said that they are not allowed to give their names to the media. However, she said that the calls follow similar scam calls, such as the call that a grandchild is in prison or the recipient of the calls is in trouble with the police.
“If you press the number or call them back, they can get mean,” she said. “They sometimes demand money and tell you to go to Walmart and buy gift cards.”
The representative said that they sometimes get three or four calls about there scams, but other days can have as many as 20.
“As far as we know, the callers may not be in the United States,” she said. “And once you give them the gift card money, you can’t get it back.”
If Social Security calls someone, the call comes from its facility in Texas, leading with a 469 area code. However, Social Security does not call for canceled numbers and legal issues, and customers often initiate the calls first, so the call is frequently a callback. If someone does not press “1” or talk to another person, there is no danger. The best advice, Social Security said, is just to hang up and go on with your day.