Warning: Scammers Are Tricking Caller ID

Just when you thought you knew how to keep con artists from ripping you off, here comes a new scam. This one is particularly devious.  It involves Social Security and your telephone. Scammers are tricking Caller ID to make you think they are calling from a government agency.

How the Scam Works

Let’s say that you have Caller ID on your phone. Before answering, you check to see who is calling. If you do not recognize the number, you let the call go to voice mail. Most telephone crooks do not leave recorded messages.

In this new scam, your Caller ID will say that the call is from 800-772-1213, which is the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) national customer service number. Thinking it is a safe caller, you answer. The person on the phone asks you to verify your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. DO NOT give out this or any other personal or financial information over the phone, even to someone who appears to be calling from the Social Security Administration.

Thieves are using a high-tech trick to make someone else’s name or number fraudulently show up on your Caller ID. The call is not from the Social Security Administration. It is a crook who is trying to steal your information. This example is only one of several variations on this new con game. Now that fraudsters have this technology, they can “hijack” anyone’s name or telephone number to make it appear on your Caller ID.

How You Can Know if the Call is a Scam

Even though these crooks are extremely deceptive, there are several clues that will tell you if you should just hang up the phone. Here are some tips:

  • If the caller – any caller – asks for your Social Security number, hang up. Legitimate government agencies do not ask for your Social Security number over the telephone. Your bank and other companies will not ask for this information over the phone.
  • If the caller asks for your date of birth, full legal name, or address, end the call at once. Real agencies and reputable companies do not ask for these things.
  • If the caller asks for your bank account or other financial information, hang up. Your bank already knows this information and other people do not need it.
  • If the caller threatens to terminate your Social Security benefits, if you do not confirm your Social Security number, hang up. The SSA will not call up and threaten you or ask for your Social Security number. The SSA makes all of its requests for information in writing via US Mail, not by telephone.
  • If the caller promises to approve or increase your Social Security or other benefits, it is a scam call. Hang up.

What You Should Do

The government wants to know about suspicious calls that claim to be from the SSA. You should report these calls to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The phone number is 800-501-2102. The number for the hearing-impaired is 866-501-2101. You could also go to the OIG’s website at oig.ssa.gov/report to let them know about the call.

Be sure to talk with an elder law attorney near you, to see if your state’s regulations vary from the general law of this article.

References:

AARP. “Social Security Warns of a New ‘Spoofing’ Scam.” (accessed January 16, 2018) https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2018/spoofing-scam.html

Suggested Key Terms: new Social Security telephone scam, scammers are hijacking your Caller ID

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