Attorney General Mark Brnovich is warning Arizonans about con artists pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) scheming to obtain victims’ Social Security numbers and access to their financials. In many cases, scammers go as far as spoofing the SSA's number so as to appear to be from the government.
There are several versions of the scam. In one, the caller claims your Social Security number has been linked to a crime or an illegal activity. The caller says that your number has been blocked and that you will need to pay a fee to reactivate it. Social Security does not suspend or block numbers, ever.
In another variation, the caller claims someone has used your Social Security number and your bank account could be seized. The caller urges you to quickly withdraw or transfer your money (sometimes onto gift cards) and will either take your money or gain access to your bank account.
In other versions of the scam, fraudsters might claim that SSA computers are not working properly or they are trying to refer you to enroll in the Medicare prescription drug program. You should not provide any personal information to these individuals.
“Our office has seen an increase in consumer complaints involving Social Security Administration scams,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “These con artists can be very intimidating and convincing over the phone. They’ve also figured out a way to spoof their phone number, so the number appears to be calling from the Social Security Administration’s national customer service number. It’s important for Arizonans to remember legitimate government offices will not threaten you, demand money, or ask for access to your bank accounts over the phone.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently noted that SSA scams are on the rise. In 2017, the FTC heard from 3,200 people about SSA impostor scams, with victims reportedly losing nearly $210,000. In 2018, more than 35,000 people reported a SSA scam, losing $10 million.
The FTC is also working to address this issue. Consumers can find several additional tips on the FTC blog.
If you ever have any questions about the legitimacy of a call from someone saying they are from the SSA, hang up and call the SSA directly at 1(800)772-1213 to verify legitimacy and the reason for the contact.
If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office online. You can also contact the Consumer Information and Complaints Unit in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763; in Tucson at (520) 628-6648; and outside of the metro Phoenix area at (800) 352-8431.