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Social Security Scam Calls — How to Detect & Avoid Them

Blank social security card on a white

“Your Social Security number has been suspended” — familiar words that you’ve almost certainly heard at one point or another, spoken by an automated voice after answering a phone call that caller ID told you was from the Social Security Administration. It’s not long before the voice is threatening you with arrest or legal action and demanding payment, either.

These are Social Security scam calls and they’re everywhere at the moment. Throughout 2020, there were over 718,000 reports of Social Security imposter telephone scams, resulting in total losses of nearly $45 million, with the average individual loss being $5,800.

One elderly woman from Massachusetts lost over $900,000 to one of the scammers. Fortunately, that particular perpetrator has been arrested for laundering the money made from his scams, but the scale of the fake Social Security scam call problem is clear to see.

The signs of Social Security scam calls


With the problem being so widespread and serious, you’re probably wondering how you can detect the scams. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of some of the tell-tale signs of Social Security call scams.

1. You even get a phone call in the first place. Only in very, very rare circumstances will you receive an unsolicited call from the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is normal to receive a call from them if you have been in prior contact with them, however.
2. The caller asks you to provide or confirm your Social Security number. A legitimate employee of the SSA will never, under no circumstances, ask you to do this. 
3. The caller threatens you with the prospect of arrest, legal action, loss of benefits, or something similar. Once again, this is just not something the SSA does. It is a tactic used by the scammers to scare people into complying with their demands.
4. You’re asked to transfer money, buy gift cards, or send cryptocurrency. This is how the scammers make their money, but nobody from the SSA will ever ask you to do any of these things.

What to do if you receive a SSN scam call


If you receive a Social Security scam call, you should hang up immediately and report the details of the call to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). You can do so by clicking here.

Once the scammers have your number, it can seem like they’re forever calling you, so if you want to try to minimize the number of unwanted calls you receive, you can add your number to the National Do Not Call Registry. You can add your home or mobile number to the registry for free. Click here or call (888) 382-1222to learn more.

We all need to do our part


These types of scams truly ruin lives. The scammers are very clever, cunning, and convincing. It’s easy to see how so many people fall victim to them. To make it easier for the authorities to apprehend the scammers, if you receive a scam phone call, don’t just hang up and forget about it. Please report it to the OIG, too.

It’s important that more people are educated on the signs of these scams because once you know what to look out for, avoiding them is much easier. If you found the scam avoidance tips in this article helpful and you think your friends and family would too, please share this post with them. You could end up saving somebody a lot of money.

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