Social Security scams are on the rise.
The November Retirement Confidence Index from SimplyWise reported that 47% of Americans were targeted by a Social Security scam in a recent three-month period.
SimpleWise found that 53% of seniors were the target of a Social Security scam over the same period. What’s more, 21% of seniors were the target of a Social Security scam more than three times.
“Despite all of our efforts, people will continue to fall victim to government imposters,” Gail Ennis, inspector general at the Social Security Administration, told CNBC.
“As we take one scammer down, another will pop up in their place. They will find other ways to reach people and devise new techniques to deceive them.”
The question then becomes, what does one do to avoid becoming a victim of these scams? One of the hallmarks of a Social Security scam is an unsolicited phone call.
The SSA only makes phone calls in specific circumstances, such as if you have personally requested a call back or your benefits are undergoing a disability review.
Fraudsters won’t stop at phone calls however, so also be wary of texts and emails that claim to be from the SSA.
Just hang up
If one of these scammers threatens you with arrest or to take legal action if you don’t pay immediately, disengage immediately. The SSA would never strong-arm you like that.
Other common tactics used by would be scammers include, offering to increase your benefits for a fee or demanding atypical forms of payment, such as wire transfers, gift cards, or cryptocurrency.
However, as it has always been, the most important piece of advice to remember is to never give out your Social Security number.
If you feel that you have been the victim or the target of a scam, you can report the incident on the SSA’s Inspector General website. There is also a fraud hotline, which can be reached at 1-800-269-0271.