Critter Corner: Has Mom’s Social Security Number Been Suspended or Cancelled?

Dear Magic,

The phone rings a lot at my mother’s house (she has quite the social life for a 90-year old woman!) One call she received the other day sounded official to her, she explained to me, but she couldn’t get to the phone in time. A person from the “Judiciary Department” left a message saying that mom’s “identity has been threatened” and that her “Social Security number has been cancelled.” She was ready to call the guy back and give him personal information to stop it from happening. Before she calls the guy back, please confirm that this is a scam and what someone should do if they get one of these calls.

Thanks,

S. Kamm

Dear S. Kamm,

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently received an increase in complaints about scammers who call to say that a Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended or cancelled because of suspicious activity, or because it’s been involved in identity theft or a crime. Sometimes, the scammer wants the victim to confirm their SSN to reactivate it.
Your mother’s caller ID may show the real SSA phone number (1-800-772-1213) or Judiciary Department (there is no such thing!) when these scammers call – but they’re faking that number. It’s not the real SSA person or government official calling.

Things to Know and Do

  • Know that your Social Security number is not going to be suspended or cancelled. You don’t have to verify your personal information to anyone who calls out of the blue.
    SSA or the bogus “Judiciary Department” will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money. Anyone who tells you or a loved one to do those things is undoubtedly a scammer.
  • The real SSA number is 1-800-772-1213, but scammers are putting that number in the caller ID. If you’re worried about what the caller says, hang up and call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to the real SSA. Even if the wait time is long, confirm with the real SSA before responding to one of these calls.
  • Never give any part of your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you. Or your bank account or credit card number.

To report suspicious activity, tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or call the Social Security Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. (If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the OIG TTY number at 1-866-501-2101.) A Public Fraud Reporting form is also available online at OIG’s website: https://www.socialsecurity.gov/fraudreport/oig/public_fraud_reporting/form.htm.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation offers lots of information on scams and safety, as well. Their website is http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety.

Hop this is helpful,

Magic

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