The truth behind SS# scams

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Does this sound familiar? A recording says your social security number has been suspended. You must contact the office immediately to verify. Pretty scary, right? I mean, it’s your identity that’s been compromised.

Well, not quite. But it’s about to.

In this article published by the Federal Trade Commission, Lisa Lake, consumer education specialist for the FTC, shares the truth behind this enduring (and convincing) social security scam. Check it out!

A caller says that he’s from the government and your Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended. He sounds very professional. So you should do exactly what he says to fix things…right?

Wrong.

The FTC has gotten reports about scammers trying to trick people out of their personal information by telling them that they need to “reactivate” their supposedly “suspended” SSNs. The scammers say the SSN was suspended because of some connection to fraud or other criminal activity. They say to call a number to clear it up – where they’ll ask you for personal information.

Thing is, Social Security numbers do not get suspended. This is just a variation of a government imposter scam that’s after your SSN, bank account number, or other personal information. In this variation of the scheme, the caller pretends to be protecting you from a scam while he’s trying to lure you into one.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself:

  • Never give out or confirm personal information over the phone, via email or on a website until you’ve checked out whoever is asking you for it.
  • Do not trust a name, phone number, or email address just because it seems to be connected with the government. Con artists use official-sounding names and may fake caller ID or email address information to make you trust them. Besides, the government normally contacts people by postal mail.
  • Contact government agencies directly, using telephone numbers and website addresses you know to be legitimate.

If someone has tried to steal your personal information by pretending to be from the government, report it to the FTC.

Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona on Unsplash

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About Author

J'Nel Wright

J’Nel Wright is a freelance writer and editor who contributes to 39forLife on topics of health and wellness, aging, caregiving, and business. Her work has appeared in a variety of regional and national publications. She earned a bachelors degree in English from the University of Utah. Before getting a “real job” facilitating government health, employment, and other supportive services policies, she traveled throughout Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, French Polynesia, Mexico, and much of the United States. Now as a full-time writer and editor, she doesn’t feel old, but her kids constantly ask that she stop kidding herself.

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