Social Security Impersonator: Phone Scam Overview
Identity theft is a serious problem that's growing every year. The Bureau of Justice found that 17.6 million Americans (about 7%) had been victims of identity theft in 2004. Criminals steal their victims’ identities by gaining access to their Social Security numbers. One way they do this is by posing as Social Security representatives and voice phishing, or vishing.
You need to be on your guard if anyone calls claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. The caller may actually be a Social Security official, but they could also be a scam artist trying to get your Social Security Number. If you give your SSN to a criminal pretending to be a Social Security employee, they can steal your benefits, take out credit cards and loans in your name, and much worse.
How Does the Social Security Impersonator Phone Scam Work?
Millions of people apply for Social Security benefits every year. Scammers may make unsolicited calls to find victims to exploit. There are a couple of ways they may conduct this scam.
The caller may tell their victims that they are eligible for disability benefits, education credits and other government funded services. The victim is told to provide their Social Security number, name, address and banking information. Once the caller gets this information, they use it to steal their victim's identity.
The caller may also say they want to schedule a home visit. They may even scare their victim by claiming they suspect the victim of Social Security fraud. They tell the victim to provide their SSN and other personal information before the visit can be scheduled.
You need to recognize the warning signs to protect against this scam.
How to Protect Against the Social Security Impersonation Scam
You should always be very careful about protecting your Social Security number. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Social Security does not call to schedule home visits.
Social Security sometimes conducts home visits to verify that benefits are being paid properly. However, they don't call to set up the appointment. They send an SSA-L501 Home Visit Letter to your address instead. You won't receive a home visit notice if you're not receiving Social Security benefits, because they have no need to verify that your benefits are paid properly.
Social Security does not ask you to verify your SSN.
If you ever receive a call from Social Security, they'll have your information on file. They won't need to confirm your SSN, because it's already tied to your phone number.
Social Security does not promote benefits over the phone.
Social Security doesn't cold call citizens to encourage them to enroll in benefit programs. If you believe you're entitled to Social Security benefits, then you must take the initiative of enrolling.
Social Security also does not provide grants for education or other basic needs. Anyone claiming to offer these benefits on the half of the Social Security administration is a scam artist.
How Can You Report Social Security Scams?
If you believe that you are the target of a Social Security scam, then you should report it to the Office of the Inspector General. You can find more information on filing a report on the SSA website.
You can also help warn others in your community by leaving your feedback in our online phone book on the number that contacted you. This scam mostly targets seniors and the disabled, it’s important to talk about these scams and raise awareness. You can research and leave your feedback on numbers in our free phone tracer app for iPhone or our online phone directory.
For more resources on how to help protect seniors from scams check out our guide on resources for senior citizens.