The Social Security Administration is warning that phone scammers posing as administration employees are using increasingly sophisticated tactics to trick people into handing over Social Security and bank account numbers.
Elena Gonzales-Walker, spokesman for Social Security Administration in Wisconsin, said there have been an increasing number of scams being reported in the state over the last month, with a spike in scam activity over the last week.
The administration is warning people that scammers impersonating Social Security Administration employees are calling people and, in some cases, threatening to terminate benefits if the person they are calling does not provide personal information.
While administration employees sometimes do call individuals, they would not ask for personal information over the phone or threaten to terminate benefits.
“Social Security employees will never threaten you for information. They will not state that you face potential arrest or other legal information if you fail to provide information or pay a fee. In those cases, the call is fraudulent and you should just hang up,” said Doug Nguyen, regional communications director, in a letter being distributed in the region.
Gonzales-Walker said the phone scams have become fairly sophisticated. She said they are using spoofing technology that shows a Social Security Administration phone number on caller ID. They are also leaving phone numbers asking for their targets to call, and answering on call-back identifying themselves as Social Security employees.
“Within the last week they’ve really gotten aggressive and they’re calling you three or four five times a day,” Gonzales-Walker said.
She said, when one of the administration’s own employees received one of the scam calls, Gonzales-Walker herself called the phone number the scammer provided. She said the person who answered the phone answered identifying herself as an employee, and even provided the office code of an actual Social Security office in Baltimore.
“She immediately asked for my Social Security number,” Gonzales-Walker said.
She said anyone who receives one of the scam calls should report it by calling the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online at oig.ssa.gov/report.