By Rusty Bradshaw
Sun Cities residents are encouraged to be cautious about responding to calls purported to be from the Social Security Administration.
Scams linked to SSA and seniors have been prevalent for several years and remain active, according to SSA and Arizona law enforcement officials. The specifics of the scams change from time-to-time, but the intent remains to gather personal information to either steal money from accounts or use that personal information to open fraudulent credit cards and other accounts.
A resident posted on Facebook a description of what happened to her. A call was received from a woman claiming to be an SSA employee. She said the resident’s Social Security number was flagged for drug trafficking and asked the resident to verify her Social Security number. When she refused, the caller claimed if she did not comply her Social Security number and benefits would be suspended.
However, Social Security numbers and benefits are never suspended, SSA officials.
This is the latest variation of the scam involving both SSA and the Office of the Inspector General, according to information on the AARP website, www.aarp.org.
In the first of two variations practiced last year, an individual gets a phone call with an automated recording saying that his or her Social Security number has been suspended for suspicion of illegal activity. The fraudster then provides a phone number and says the person must call it to fix the problem or else the person’s assets will be frozen. Anyone who does call the number is asked to provide personal information the scammer can then use to commit identity theft or other fraud.
In the other scam, the caller pretends to work for Social Security and asks the person to verify personal information, including Social Security number, date of birth and address. SSA officials first alerted the public to these schemes in January 2018. They believe both, as well as the latest version with a live caller, continue to be practiced.
SSA officials strongly discourages people from providing personal information over the telephone unless they are certain of who is on the other end of the line, according to information on the AARP website. In cases when the real SSA does call individuals, the agency has usually contacted the person before.
People who receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from the SSA are urged to report that information to the OIG at 800-269-0271 or online. Those who have questions about a phone call, email, text message or any other type of communication claiming to be from the SSA can contact any Social Security office or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) to make sure it is legitimate.