You may not be drawing Social Security benefits yet, but you probably know people who are. This post describes a Social Security phone scam that’s occurring in numerous US area codes, according to Mercer Advisors. Scammers claiming to be Social Security Administration (SSA) representatives call and threaten to suspend Social Security benefits of those who don’t provide the information requested by the scammers — information that can lead to identity theft. Or, the scammer might say there is criminal activity linked to your Social Security number, and if you don’t resolve it, you’ll be putting your benefits at risk. Or, you may be asked to confirm your Social Security number so that the SSA can resolve a problem relating to your account.

What You Need to Know

Investment advisors, law enforcement and investigators give this advice:

• The SSA will never threaten over the phone to suspend your benefits. If you receive a call threatening suspension, just hang up.
• Never give out your Social Security number when the request is unsolicited. A social security number is private, confidential information.
• Do not call a phone number that is left on your voice mail by a robo-caller. To contact the SSA, call their customer service line directly at 800-772-1213.
• Do not assume a call is legitimate because it appears to come from an 800 number. Scammers use “spoofing” technology to trick caller ID to mask their actual number.
• Do not click links in emails that purport to be from SSA without checking them. If you receive such an email, hover your mouse over the link to reveal the actual destination address. The main part of the address should end with “.gov/” — including the forward slash. If there’s anything between .gov and the slash, it’s a fake address.
• If you like, you can set up a mySocialSecurity account. My Social Security is an online service provided by the SSA that allows individuals to review earnings history, check current or future benefits, and access many other Social Security services.

What to Do If You Are Compromised

• Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has a website dedicated to Social Security fraud:
• Contact the SSA. They can advise you on what to do, and in some cases, they may even issue a new Social Security number.
• Monitor and possibly freeze credit. To freeze credit, contact each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Telephone numbers for each of the three are listed below. You will need to provide identifying personal information, including your Social Security number. To confirm submission of the request, the credit reporting bureau will send you a confirmation letter in the mail. This letter will contain a PIN that you will need later to unfreeze your credit, so keep the PIN safe.
1. Equifax — 1 800 349 9960
2. Experian — 1 888 397 3742
3. TransUnion — 1 888 909 8872

Kathryn Lazar, Esq.