Were you called by a Social Security scammer? Feds issue warning

WASHINGTON — Beware of calls from people claiming they’ll increase or cut off your social security benefits in exchange for information — and be skeptical if their caller ID says they’re from the Social Security Administration, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday.

The Feds issued a warning that scammers are spoofing a real, actual number used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to try to get personal information from people across the country.

“Scammers are spoofing SSA’s 1-800 customer service number to try to get your personal information,” the Federal Trade Commission said. “Spoofing means that scammers can call from anywhere, but they make your caller ID show a different number — often one that looks legit.”

The FTC wants you to know that a real employee of the SSA would never threaten you or promise to increase your benefits in order to get personal information.

So, what do you do?

If you get one of these calls, the feds recommend hanging up, calling the SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213 and then, if it turns out you have been targeted by scammers, report what happened.

The SSA’s Office of Inspector General can be reached at 1-800-269-0271 or online here.

You’ll need to be vigilant to avoid being scammed by crooks calling from what appears to be a legitimate phone number on caller ID, but there are precautions you can take against less sophisticated spoofers and robocalls in general.

Consumer Reports details a number of ways you can try to protect yourself, including signing up for your carrier’s robocall alert service.

There are free call-blocking apps such as:

You can sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry.

Also, some phone companies and phones have options allowing you to automatically reject anonymous calls, so you never even get the fraudulent messages.

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Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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