Social Security scam calls on the rise

Rockford – The Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau is warning area residents of a growing scam aimed at compromising the Social Security numbers of individuals.
Dennis Horton, director of the BBB office says, “In the past few days we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of callers reporting people impersonating representatives from the Social Security Administration.”
Some of the callers to the BBB office say these are “robocalls” that claim their Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended for suspicion of illegal activity, and the person should contact a provided phone number immediately to resolve the issue.  The call threatens if the person does not contact the provided phone number, the person’s assets will be frozen until the alleged issue is resolved. In other cases, a caller claims to be from “SSA headquarters” or Department of Health and Human Services and asks the person to provide personal information, such as their SSN, address, and date of birth. 
Horton notes, “We first heard of these calls in January, but the activity died down until recently. At that time the Federal Trade Commission issued a report about suspicious phone calls from people claiming to be SSA employees.”
According to the SSA, “employees do occasionally contact citizens by telephone for customer-service purposes.  In only a few limited special situations, usually already known to the citizen, an SSA employee may request the citizen confirm personal information over the phone.”


However, the SSA says their representatives will never do any of the following:
Call you to demand an immediate payment;
Demand that you pay a debt without the ability to appeal the amount you owe;
Require a specific means of payment, such as requiring you pay with a prepaid debit card;
Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone;
Threaten you with arrest or deportation.
To avoid becoming a victim of this recent or other phone scams the BBB says:
Contact your local SSA office if you receive a call from a person claiming to be from SSA, and that person asks you to provide your Social Security number or other information.
If you answer the phone and the caller - or a recording - asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, you should just hang up.
Never provide your personal information when receiving unsolicited calls or contacts
Never agree to accept pre-paid debit cards or credit cards in another person’s name
Never agree to send or wire money to an unknown person
Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools they may have and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device to block unwanted calls.
When in doubt assume it’s a scam.
Remember to always report scammers. If you’ve been the target of a scam or suspect scam activity, report it to authorities and BBB Scam Tracker to warn others.

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