PENINSULA — If you get a recorded call that says you’re about to lose your Social Security benefits, ignore it — It’s a relatively new phone scam that is designed to prey upon the fears of middle and low-income seniors.
Like similar, previous phone scams, this one, which has targeted locals in recent days, involves a recording of an official-sounding person who claims the call recipient has done something to get into trouble with a government agency — this time, the Social Security Administration.
These types of calls, known as “phishing” schemes, typically tell the recipient they must take fast action to avoid a financial or legal penalty. People who respond to the calls are then asked to provide bank account numbers or other personal information, or asked to wire money or quickly provide prepaid debit cards to “clear up” the “problem.” The calls often come from overseas, and are very difficult to trace.
Acting Inspector General of Social Security Gale Stallworth Stone said in a press release last year that the goal of the scammers is to steal identities or Social Security benefits. While Social Security investigators do occasionally call people, they never make threats, and don’t ask for sensitive personal information over the phone.
Stone said call recipients should verify that the call came from an actual government office before giving out Social Security Numbers, bank account information or other personal details.
“You must be very confident that the source is the correct business party, and that your information will be secure after you release it,” Stone said.
For more information, or to verify a communication from a purported Social Security employee, call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Beware of Social Security scam calls