Social Security numbers (SSNs) are critical in today’s world, as many important life events are tied to them. Applying for a job, buying a house, opening a bank account; all of these big decisions require identifying information, such as an SSN.
Because of this, fraudsters are always looking for new ways to garner critical information from unsuspecting individuals, and stealing SSNs are one way to do that. Social Security scams are nothing new, however, a recent uptick of scam-related incidents has put some people on high-alert. There are reports of scammers posing as the Social Security Administration (SSA) and asking people to verify their social security number over the phone or pay a fee in order to get a fine off of their record.
Social Security scams are one of the most common scams, and we want to provide you with information to help you recognize fraudsters who are looking to take advantage of you or your family. Here are some tips to help you recognize Social Security scammers, as well as ways you can keep your information safe.
Recognizing Social Security Scams
Over the past few months, people have reported calls from scammers who are posing as the SSA, stating that they need to verify your SSN in order to clear you of a fine or a crime.
They will threaten legal action, such as jail time or seizing your bank accounts, creating a sense of urgency. The goal of this scam is to pressure people into giving up their SSN out of fear of legal repercussions.
However, you should know that this is a scam. These scammers are attempting to get your social security number and use it to open fraudulent accounts in your name, leaving you on the hook. The SSA will not threaten legal action for not paying a fee, so you should not feel intimidated if someone calls and uses these scare tactics to get you to provide your social security number.
Another way that scammers will try to manipulate unsuspecting people is by requesting payment of some kind in order to clear a fee. There are reports of scammers requesting gift cards, a wire transfer, or pre-paid cards from people, all under the guise of “clearing” their name. Unfortunately, many people fall for this. You should never pay someone over the phone with gift cards or wires. If, by chance, the real Social Security Administration does require payment, you will be given detailed payment instructions with advance notice, so there will be no surprises waiting for you.
Here are some general safety tips when it comes to interacting with the Social Security Administration and giving out your personal information.
- Most government programs will contact you by mail, which is the same for the SSA. The SSA will rarely contact via phone and ask you to verify personally identifying information, so be leery of anyone requesting your Social Security number.
- You can sign up for text alerts or emails from the SSA, but most of the time these are simply updates, not communication about your account. So be wary of any texts or emails that appear to be from the SSA that make similar demands.
- Do not confirm your social security number to someone who contacts you. These scammers may come across as helpful, but are trying to steal your personal information and use it for their benefit.
If you have recently been contacted by someone claiming to be from the SSA and you believe it to be a scam, report them immediately, especially if you are a victim. You can do so at the FTC website and the SSA website.
Additionally, make sure to tell those you love to be alert and on the lookout. Share this blog, send them an email, or give them a call; bringing awareness about how scammers work will ultimately help people down the line.
We know how difficult it is to stay vigilant against scammers, and here at Blackhawk Bank, we want to make sure you and your family stay informed. Want to learn more about Blackhawk Bank? Contact us today!
VP Physical & Information Security