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The phone rings. Your caller ID says it’s the Social Security Administration. You hesitate. You’re not expecting a call from them, and you’ve heard about impersonation scams. But something inside you makes you pick up. And everything you’re about to hear is designed to scare you into doing whatever the caller says.

The caller says he’s a Social Security Administration agent with an urgent warning: Your name and Social Security number are linked to serious crimes like money laundering and drug trafficking.

You’re panicked when he says there’s an arrest warrant for you and the courts want to seize the money from your bank and retirement accounts. The only way to protect it, he claims, is to buy gold. The agent says he’ll send someone to pick it up and will keep it safe until he can clear your name of any wrongdoing.

You’re in a rush because he says you must go to the bank immediately. You’re nervous, so the agent offers to stay on the line with you while you’re at the bank and tells you what to say.

You’re so stressed out. And terrified the police are coming to arrest you. You want to take a minute to call someone, but he says you don’t have time. And he insists you can’t trust anyone but him.

You hesitate. It seems strange that he’s telling you to buy gold. What if it’s a scam? You do a quick search and find that someone with the name he gave you is an employee at the Social Security Administration. But can you be sure it’s him? Maybe he’s just using that name.

On the other hand, the caller ID did say Social Security Administration. And he does know some personal details about you. Should you go ahead?

Stop. It’s a scam.

Anyone who tells you to buy gold, or withdraw cash, and give it to someone is a scammer.

Report them to the FTC at

If a caller tells you someone is coming to pick up gold or cash at your house, call the police.

This is an elaborate impersonation scheme to rip you off. To learn about others, check out our blog series, Anatomy of an Imposter Scam.

3 Things Scammers Say. 1. Scammers tell you to move your money to protect it. 2. Scammers say you have to get cash and drop it off. 3. Scammers tell you to buy gold and give it to a courier. Don’t do it. It’s a scam.
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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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brad smith
May 10, 2024

the one problem is they now have all my information. so many leaks and no responsibility from the company that leaked the information. i wish the FTC and FBI would work together and build a blueprint to structure of security. and if the company wants to hold on to data they need to qualify to have that data. for example level 1 is Name, Email, Phone number, address, password. a basic login info. most business can prove there system. but when you add birthday, CC#, that is level 2, add personal info like location sharing and data tracking thats level 5 and medical is 6 if your security fails in any way or you wish to share data outside there are rules and anything above level 3 the client has a right to scrub there data. meaning no one is allowed down the chain to retain that data unless the client readds it back to share.

May 10, 2024

Couple of months ago s guy called me from the Police Station, told me I had to go down to the station and withdraw money to give to them $5000! I told him I don’t have that kinda $ and he threaten to arrest me on a bench warrant. Scared me so much, it was a scam from my family member! Go figure.

May 10, 2024

thank you!! this is so prevalent and scary.

May 13, 2024

In reply to by julie

As I am reading this I literally just finished speaking to someone who told me that he is calling from Amazon to confirm a $1400. order that was placed by me. When he tried to confirm my info I answered no to every question. I told him to go ahead and cancel the order, but he was very persistent. I am a senior citizen. I get on the average about 50 "scam" calls each day. The "scam" callers call with different phone numbers, but I still recognize the voice. I tell them I told you yesterday I was not interested and I am on the "Do not call" list.

May 13, 2024

In reply to by Thelma

Why do you answer your phone? No caller ID or messaging system should be the only reason to pick up the receiver. If you do not recognize the number don't answer and wait to see if they leave a message.

Christopher Spencer
May 13, 2024

In all the years that scammers have been able to make a phone call show up on Caller ID as coming from a legitimate business, why hasn't someone been able to create a program that prevents them from doing this? Is anyone, any of the telecommunication companies, even working on such a program?

If they could it would eliminate Caller ID scams.

May 13, 2024

I can't believe people fall this!

May 13, 2024

A couple of years ago I received that kind of call. At first I believe but then I could not trust that person and ended the call.

Hope Welch
May 13, 2024

Just got an inbox email with authentic looking icons and message from Paypal - and called the number listed and went down a rabbit hole - with major breach of computer and bank facility. The hackers were very convincing and prepared with their scheme.
Did not lose money - but had to close account - start new bank account, contact all, get new computer as certain there is malware. Probably should change email. I have avoided those type emails when in junk - but this came into inbox, and I was distracted by other things going on.
I appreciate the alerts I get from Consumer alerts!

May 13, 2024

I've been scammed by family in so many ways it's pathetic

May 15, 2024

I get this scam ALL THE TIME ALL DAY LONG! They start at 5AM....dont realize west coast is 3 hours EARLIER. DUMMYS! I called a couple back (because I dont have caller ID on) and they dont have a record of my number as one they called. MANY are coming from Jamacia. Im SO TIRED OF THESE CALLS. WHY cant you guys DO MORE? You COULD stop A LOT OF FRAUD but choose NOT TO DO ANYTHING. ESP to protect the ELDERLY!
This has been going on for over 10 yrs and you REFUSE ANY REQUESTS TO STOP THIS FRUAD YOU HAVE JURISTICTION ON! WHY?

May 17, 2024

I registered a complaint on my FDIC portal and I don't know its status yet, whether my report has been acted upon or not.

Deborah Dutcher
May 20, 2024

The headline on this message is very misleading. This is bad copywriting.
It is entirely possible that someone may be using my social security number to commit a crime. Instead, shouldn't the FTC be encouraging me to make regular checks with the 3 credit reporting agencies? A better headline would be "Will social security notify you that a scammer is using your SS number?"