False Social Security Calls: What To Do

In this article...
  • Are you aware of scammers making false Social Security calls? People have been alarmed by odd calls from fake SSA officials. Learn how to stop this scam.
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If you get Social Security benefits for retirement, disability or low-income support, it can be alarming to suddenly get a phone call about losing your benefits. These calls are made worse by the fact that many callers quickly become angry and abusive over the phone if you don’t answer their inappropriate questions about your private information. Some older adults and people with disabilities have even been bullied into giving out their health and credit information by these scammers.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has alerted the public about these false Social Security calls. If you get a call purporting to be from the Social Security Administration that seems off, do not go along with the caller’s demands. Instead, you are encouraged to report the attempted scam to the administration’s fraud detection unit.

What Do False Social Security Calls Sound Like?

False Social Security calls come in a few varieties, but mostly they include an attempt to get you to send money to their operation or give out private information over the phone. Sometimes the calls are made by people, and sometimes they’re robocalls with recordings telling you to press 1 to speak to a live operator.

Often, the premise of the call is that your Social Security number has been involved with mysterious criminal activity. Some false claims you may hear include:

  • Your benefits will be suspended
  • Your Social Security Number has been compromised and is no longer valid
  • The SSA will criminally prosecute you and others in your family if you don’t pay them what they want.

Does the Social Security Administration Ever Call People?

Workers with the Social Security Administration do, from time to time, have to call people for reasons related to active cases. These calls are always in relation to a specific issue that concerns you, most often as a follow-up call to an application or request for information you made yourself with the administration.

The SSA never, under any circumstances, calls random people and demands private information or threatens them with dire consequences if they don’t go along. The Social Security Administration does not initiate criminal proceedings or tell people that they might go to jail if they don’t pay a fee over the phone. The SSA also does not spam people with multiple calls a day, especially with automated dialing systems and scratchy, hard to hear recordings of people with threatening voices.

What to Do If You Get a Call

The easiest thing to do with false Social Security calls is just to hang up on them. If you have an app that can block phone numbers in your caller ID, you can use that to cut down on the number of calls you get. Unfortunately, many scammers use a trick called spoofing to fool your caller ID with fake numbers. These numbers frequently change, so you’ll have to keep blocking the calls as they come in.

It’s your choice if you want to talk with the scammer who calls you. If you do spend a little time on the phone with one of these fake Social Security callers, however, be very careful not to disclose any private information to them, even by accident. Don't give them a false Social Security number and pretend it’s your own, as the number you give them could actually belong to someone else. Never give out debit or credit card information over the phone. In case you are told that somebody has stolen your identity and run up charges you have to pay for, remember also that:

  • The SSA does not collect private debts.
  • Despite the callers' claims, it is in the Constitution that you can’t go to jail for owing money to someone.
  • Government employees can get in trouble for using profanity over the phone with citizens.
  • Most SSA documents are proofread for spelling and grammar, and many SSA employees are able to read documents over the phone without too much difficulty.
  • Identity theft is real, but the SSA has no way of knowing whether it’s happened to you, so they won’t call you out of the blue to warn you about it.
  • The SSA never cancels a Social Security number, nor does your number get frozen, impounded or reset; changing your SSN is possible, but you can’t do it over the phone.

How to Report False Social Security Calls

The SSA encourages citizens to report suspicious calls that claim to be from the administration. If you would like to help the SSA’s investigative efforts in this area, you can report false Social Security calls by calling the administration’s Fraud Watch number at 1-877-908-3360.