By Vonda VanTil, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Social Security is committed to protecting your personal information. We urge you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security number (SSN) or bank account information to unknown people over the phone or internet. If you receive a call and aren’t expecting one, you must be extra careful. You can always get the caller’s information, hang up, and — if you do need more clarification — contact the official phone number of the business or agency that the caller claims to represent. Never reveal personal data to a stranger who called you.
There’s a scam going around right now. You might receive a call from someone claiming to be from Social Security or another agency. Calls can even display 1-800-772-1213, Social Security’s national customer service number, as the incoming number on your caller ID. In some cases, the caller states that Social Security does not have all of your personal information, such as your SSN, on file. Other callers claim Social Security needs additional information so the agency can increase your benefit payment, or that Social Security will terminate your benefits if they do not confirm your information. This appears to be a widespread issue, as reports have come from people across the country. These calls are not from Social Security.
Callers sometimes state that your SSN is at risk of being deactivated or deleted. The caller then asks you to call a phone number to resolve the issue. People should be aware that the scheme’s details may vary; however, you should avoid engaging with the caller or calling the number provided, as the caller might attempt to acquire personal information.
Social Security employees occasionally contact people by telephone for customer-service purposes. In only a very few special situations, such as when you have business pending with us, will a Social Security employee request that the person confirm personal information over the phone.
Social Security employees will never threaten you or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up. If you receive these calls, please report the information to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online at oig.ssa.gov/report.
Protecting your information is an important part of Social Security’s mission. You work hard and make a conscious effort to save and plan for retirement. Scammers try to stay a step ahead of us, but with an informed public and your help, we can stop these criminals before they cause serious financial damage.
Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at email@example.com.