On Wednesday afternoon, Social Security Administration officials issued a warning about a nationwide scam. They warned that phony agents are impersonating SSA officials and asking for specific information, which could lead to identity theft.
The official statement about the scam came from the Office of the Inspector General. Acting Inspector General Gale Stallworth Stone is “urging citizens to remain vigilant." While the office released a similar statement in March, they have reportedly been receiving a vast amount of reports and information about this scheme since then.
The caller has been posing as an SSA employee, attempting to acquire “personally identifiable information from victims." The office believes that the intention of the scammers is to edit that personal information with SSA, including direct deposits, home address, and telephone number.
While legitimate SSA employees occasionally contact citizens, it is rare that they would ask for confirmation of personal information over the phone. There are two tips that Acting Inspector General Stone gave in the report in order to avoid this fraudulent activity:
- “Avoid calling any number provided by a suspicious source, as the unknown source might pressure you to provide your personal information, or to make a payment or purchase for fictitious reasons.”
- “Avoid making payments over the phone or purchasing gift cards or banking cards to resolve government or business matters.”
The Acting Inspector General also wrote, “This scheme targets unsuspecting persons and uses scare tactics to defraud them of their resources. Citizens should be very careful and avoid responding to suspicious calls. If an unknown person pressures you on the phone into providing payments or making purchases for odd reasons, don’t think twice about hanging up.”
These phone calls are likely to come from a 323 area code. If anyone receives a similar phone call, they should call the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271.