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Earlier this month, we told you about a growing scam: people pretend to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and try to get your Social Security number or your money. That scam is now growing exponentially. To compare: in 2017, we heard from 3,200 people about SSA imposter scams, and those people reported losing nearly $210,000. So far THIS year: more than 35,000 people have reported the scam, and they tell us they’ve lost $10 million.

Here’s what one of those scam calls sound like:

Scammers are saying your Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it’s been involved in a crime. Sometimes, the scammer wants you to confirm your SSN to reactivate it. Sometimes, he’ll say your bank account is about to be seized – but he’ll tell you what to do to keep it safe. (Often, that involves putting your money on gift cards and giving him the codes – which, of course, means that your money is gone.)

Oh, and your caller ID often shows the real SSA phone number (1-800-772-1213) when these scammers call – but they’re faking that number. It’s not the real SSA calling.

Here's what to know:

  • Your Social Security number is not about to be suspended. You don’t have to verify your number to anyone who calls out of the blue. And your bank accounts are not about to be seized.
  • SSA will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time.
  • 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.

If you get one of these calls, tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

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8,513 Comments

steve
March 05, 2019

In reply to by It likely does

Yeah, they don't like having to answer any questions. Just had this happen and I couldn't help but laugh. The SSA doesn't call you and threaten to have you arrested if you don't call them back.
Lizzy
April 23, 2019

In reply to by AMK

Yeah except I asked if they were calling from India and they said they were.
95% of the time
September 05, 2019

In reply to by AMK

A scammer can have any accent, however, 99% of the time I've been called by "Microsoft", "IRS", and "Social Security", they have always had a thick middle eastern accent.
kdu14618
December 27, 2018
Those scammers sure are clever and devious. Yes. There are apps that can send a fake caller ID. This year, I got the IRS scam a few times. Maybe next year, I'll hear from those social security scammers.
george
December 27, 2018
How's can the government allow the scammers to use an official government number in our caller-id to fool us?
grandma
December 28, 2018

In reply to by george

The government isn't allowing them to use it. It's an app. that they down load to change the number that they are calling from to whatever number they want.
jr
February 07, 2019

In reply to by grandma

The government needs to make the app's to change phone number Illegal! There is no reason for anyone to change their phone number that shows up on caller id or any other reason to do it!! We all have to abide by FCC rules when using out phones etc why is it okay for them to do what they do and have it legal?
The Corpse Groom
April 04, 2019

In reply to by jr

That's like creating more gun laws and asking the criminals to obey them...
Dp
March 03, 2020

In reply to by jr

This is no different than someone creating a fake ID when they are underage to use to get into somewhere they're not supposed to be. You cannot eliminate the possibility of Technology being used for illegal purposes. Digital technology or what came before can be exploited for the purpose of creating a crime if there is is illegal intent. If cars are used as weapons are you then going to Outlaw cars ?
Very C
July 16, 2020

In reply to by jr

Think about what you said; they are lawbreakers already 1) calling numbers that are on the do not call list, 2) they are scammers. why would them follower a new law?
justicedog
February 23, 2019

In reply to by grandma

There’s got to be some technology that could stop the spoofing of telephone numbers. The government should do much more to stop it.
Mike
November 04, 2019

In reply to by justicedog

The ability to "spoof" numbers is an integral part of VOIP technology and has plenty of legitimate uses. Technically speaking, with internet telephony, you are not calling from a "number" you are calling from a "trunk". However, there can be one or more numbers that get routed to that trunk when it's called. For the sake of identification, you'll probably want to specify one of those numbers as your caller ID when placing an outbound call from that trunk. The protocol allows you to specify any number. Usually, this feature is used by a person or business legitimately but I'm sure you can see how it can be abused by scammers. Anyway, point is, you can't really easily just stop people from spoofing fake numbers because the underlying feature that they abuse is a vital part of how the phone network operates now.
tadrake
January 27, 2019

In reply to by george

They arent allowing the number to be used George. There scammers are using apps that change the number that they call is coming from. They can put in whatever number they want and they are putting in the actual IRS number so that the person is more apt to answer the phone call and believe the scam
zmanquip
December 27, 2018
Thank you once again and again and again for warning the consumer about these scams. Most folks, when they get a "call" from social security or the IRS, they panic. In their mind they say "oh no! What can I do to correct this event.". You got to keep eight or nine steps ahead of these scammers. No, you can't keep one step ahead or you will be behind! You must keep calm and collected or the scammers will collect from you! Thanks for another scam warning.
Dedeye
December 27, 2018
Thank you for your constant informing us of these leeches who do nothing but prey on the vulnerable. I always pass on these alerts to my friends.
SCAMMERS WORST…
December 27, 2018
Listening to the recording, it's a big joke that they would be telling you that your info has been compromised so-to-speak and then come off with a threat of having you arrested (I had to LOL)
John
December 27, 2018
Thank you.
Jeff miracle baby
January 08, 2019

In reply to by John

Got a call that I won but will call me back with details. Private number called that I had won 4.5 million dollars check from Bank of America with"GOLD SEAL" from FTC along with a 2019 Mercedes new vehicle also having clear title. "Mr"Marks" asked if I could purchase of 2 gift cards @$350 each. The number Mark first called me on was 775-773-5989. Letting me know I have won a prize. I am disabled and age 62 was not extra in my budget. Help! I had bad experiences with thieves. And this feels no different. The $700 I really don't have nor any room for $700 payout.
BlueStormWalker
December 27, 2018
WOW … Thanks for including that recording. It sounds so intimidating, I would have gotten nerves and probably have thought I should call? I was able to recognize the difference, once I heard it.
Brenda G
December 27, 2018
I got this back in November: You are receiving this prerecorded message to notify you that your social will be suspended due to illegal activity. It's very important that I hear back from you in a timely manner before we can proceed further with the status of your social and assets. My direct call back number is 213-618-3453. So just for laughs I called the number back using a totally different phone and I get we're sorry your call did not go through.. If these people would put the effort in working at a real job imagine how nice the world would be instead of preying on other peoples fears.
Naomi
December 02, 2019

In reply to by Brenda G

Today 12/2/19 I received a call from (512) 089-2335 it was a recorded message notifying me that my social security account was suspended please press 1. I hanged up then I checked my account online everything was fine with my account but I changed my password anyway. Then I block that phone number.
Shannon
December 13, 2019

In reply to by Naomi

I received 3 calls today all saying that my Social Security number has been compromised due to fraudulent activity and there is a warrant out for my arrest - I called each number back and no VM or person to answer - the second time I just picked up and stayed silent. Pathetic - calls like this make me angry mostly because of tells innocent people that fall victim to these criminals. Thankfully it’s happened before so I quickly block and report online... The numbers that called me at 12pm, 1pm and 2pm EST ‭(512) 629-2198‬ (512) 429-2847‬ ‭(512) 818-3741‬
kitty
December 27, 2018
Thank you, I did receive one automated call from one of the low life an blocked he number.
Maggi
December 27, 2018
It is really frustrating how they spool numbers. It makes it hard to report to the FTC as they want the real numbers the call came from. I have tried to report scams in the past, but cannot without the actual phone number.
FTC Staff
December 27, 2018

In reply to by Maggi

When you report a call at www.FTC.gov/Complaint, you can report the spoofed number that a scammer used. That information is helpful too.

dsoli
January 28, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

They also try to spoof the social security number. They were a number off though. I already reported it.
Ken
December 27, 2018
I wonder why there are not controls put in place to divert or prevent fictitious calls like this.
Mike
November 04, 2019

In reply to by Ken

It's impossible to do with the current underlying technology of the phone network. There have to be foundational, structural changes made to it if we want to do this. That's not going to happen overnight, not even close.
Reno Nevada
December 27, 2018
Thank you for this very important information. They are getting so creative now as I was just scammed and will be filing a complaint with your office tomorrow. People think that it can not happen to them but I read everything you send and it happened to me but I caught it in time to cancel my credit cards.
Itsacruelworld
September 01, 2019

In reply to by Reno Nevada

Did you get all of your money back?
alibaba_195
May 06, 2019
To : FTC Manager: from Ali Erdogan I informed and confirmed my ID and I m a customer my prizes safe and save under security Mega Millions ,powerball known my situtions term and conditions . if some one try to cheating FBI going to fınd easly. only I have trouble biggest amount and I try to get visa for to go America USA Consulates didn't accept , I m really autorised I own lottery Money I sent my douments to CA State official Government Lottery Manager I don't Understand REGİSTERED LETTER must send reply . why they d 't want they try to finish date but I sent on time in dateline that means growing my prizes also lottery going to pay interest if I will find lawyer lotteries shuld pay also for lawyer thank you very much for your kindly services
Stuart Smetters
December 27, 2018
what do you do when the real Social Security In Waukegan, Il is scamming you (bias activities against men of American Heritage)
Kip
December 27, 2018
Thanks for keeping the public updated on these lowlifes. I haven’t received a Social Security call yet but have gotten voice mail messages from the “IRS.”
retired LEO Gr…
December 27, 2018
Received aprox. same message. Hit retail. Female answered. Advised that they just called me. Asked for name and ssn. I advised she must already have that information, they just called me. She said they have to verify. Asked what office she was calling from. I told I recently retired from SSA and wondered if we might know some of the same people. She hung up on me. How rude.
Don't use your…
December 27, 2018
The phone companies can stop these calls but they have no incentive to do so. They make money off the callers and off us when we sign up for their call blocking.
Mike
November 04, 2019

In reply to by Don't use your…

No, that's the thing. They really can't without also stopping a whole lot of legitimate calls.
comments
December 28, 2018
The gov should change all ss # or change the system
Old but not ma…
December 28, 2018
The tone of the speaker sounds like someone using a speech assist tool like one a person with a stoma would use or someone trying to disguise their real voice. Kinda dead giveaway, this tool is a scamming ghoul, and is about as real as the voice in it.
miyagii
September 04, 2020

In reply to by Old but not ma…

There is multiple voices in the calls some are more robotic than others but its all the same scam
Bones4
September 16, 2020

In reply to by miyagii

Got the same message when I answered the phone & pushed 1 was asked for a refrence# & name, they never gave me reference # but I gave my name--put me on speaker hold for like a minute then phone went dead. Tried to call # back & it was a nonworking #...Imagine that
Dee
December 28, 2018
You did not mention that SSA or IRS will never telephone you. They will always contact you by sending a letter, so always hang up on phone calls.
Terry
February 27, 2019

In reply to by Dee

They did call my home and left a name and phone number with an extension. I returned the call and the recording asked for my name and SS#. When I call back to prove to my wife this is what it said on the recording the person answered. He started asking questions and when in became more personal and direct about income I became defensive. I did not give him any more info and called him a fraud trying to scam me. At that time he said he would have to reject my application for medicare. This person is a worker for the SSA. I checked his name & phone number through our local office. I don't know what to believe anymore. I am told I can't deal with anyone else because my account is assigned to him. I have called him three times and he has not returned my calls.
Jadley
March 23, 2019

In reply to by Dee

Thank you so much for telling me that. I get a lot of calls and have paid out hundreds of dollars before on those calls due to being told I would still be arrested because the fradulant activity was still in my name and that it carried a sentence of up to two years. I’ve never been to jail and thought simply horrifies me. Therefore I asked no one for help and paid out the money. My husband was so mad at me that I didn’t talk to him about it first. I simply panicked and just paid it. Never again will I make such a mistake. Thanks so much for sharing.
Sandi
December 28, 2018
I received three calls in about 1.5 hours on 12/21/18, allegedly from "Ofcr. Gary Cole" of the SSA claiming there were issues with my SSN being used fraudulently. I guess since I did not call him back after the third call, they gave up. Phone number calling from was 218-366-3263.
Irritated
December 28, 2018
If the scammers are providing a call-back number, why can't the FTC or FCC track them down through the phone companies? Or I suppose my question should be, why don't they?
IRRITATED 2
March 11, 2019

In reply to by Irritated

Agreed! I bet those lazy scammers are reading this too so they can use other tactics! I had My own number calling me, I freaked out, called provider (may be an inside job too).
Eggroll5215
December 28, 2018
The guy with the Middle East accent called me several times, I told him off with some words I cannot use here, but haven't heard from him since, evidently he realized I couldn't be scammed. Sad world we live in when people can just steal money from those who think these people are legit. A letter should be sent out to every person in the U.S. listing all the scams that are out there, especially to the elderly.
Paula
March 31, 2019

In reply to by Eggroll5215

I Agree That Letters should be sent out a to everycall USA Citizens with a list of all the Scammers names, numbers and addresses they use to fool peoples money and information.