There's a new phone scam targeting Social Security beneficiaries that advocates for older adults should be aware of. The Federal Trade Commission is warning that scammers are engaging in a caller ID trick called "spoofing" to make it appear that they are calling from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Spoofing means that scammers can call from anywhere, but they make your caller ID show a different number -- often one that looks legit. Here are few things the Federal Trade Commission says you should know about these so-called SSA calls.
These scam calls are happening across the nation. Your phone rings. Your caller ID shows that it's the SSA calling from 1-800-772-1213. The caller says he works for the Social Security Administration and needs your personal information -- like your Social Security number -- to increase your benefits payments. (Or he threatens to cut off your benefits if you don't give the information.) But it's not really the Social Security Administration calling. Yes, it is the SSA's real phone number, but the scammers on the phone are spoofing the number to make the call look real.
What can you do if you get one of these calls? Hang up. Remember:
• SSA will not threaten you. Real SSA employees will never threaten you to get personal information. They also won't promise to increase your benefits in exchange for information. If they do, it's a scam.
• If you have any doubt, hang up and call SSA directly. Call 1-800-772-1213 - that really is the phone number for the Social Security Administration. If you dial that number, you know who you're getting. But remember that you can't trust caller ID. If a call comes in from that number, you can't be sure it's really SSA calling.
• If you get a spoofed call, report it. If someone calls, claiming to be from SSA and asking for information like your Social Security number, report it to SSA's Office of Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or https://oig.ssa.gov/report. You can also report these calls to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
For more tips, check out the FTC's How to Stop Unwanted Calls and Government Imposter Scams. If you think someone has misused your personal information, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft and find out what steps to take.