This Is the Best Way to Guard Your Social Security From Thieves

Phony Social Security calls and websites are on the rise. Both retirees and workers must be vigilant.

This Is the Best Way to Guard Your Social Security From Thieves Photo by v.gi / Shutterstock.com

It’s not just phony calls from the IRS that you should be wary of these days.

Fraudsters are increasingly impersonating the Social Security Administration, according to the actual SSA.

The Federal Trade Commission, which receives and analyzes complaints about identity theft, says the scammers are after Social Security numbers.

In some cases, a caller impersonates an SSA employee and asks folks to confirm their Social Security numbers because of a computer problem.

In other cases, the imposter is a website that resembles an official website designed to allow people to apply for a Social Security card. In fact, the site is designed to steal sensitive personal information.

What you should know

Employees of the Social Security Administration sometimes call citizens. But the federal agency notes there are “only a few limited special situations, usually already known to the citizen,” in which employees might request that a citizen confirm personal information over the phone.

The SSA also has a website: SSA.gov. But that’s the one and only legitimate official website for Social Security.

What you should do

The Federal Trade Commission issued the following tips this week, in light of the increase in Social Security scams:

  • Don’t give the caller your information. Never give out or confirm sensitive information – like your bank account, credit card or Social Security number – unless you know who you’re dealing with. If someone has contacted you, you can’t be sure who they are.
  • Don’t trust a name or number. Con artists use official-sounding names to make you trust them. To make their call seem legitimate, scammers use internet technology to spoof their area code – so although it may seem they are calling from Washington, D.C., they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
  • Check with the Social Security Administration. The SSA has a warning about these scams and suggests you contact them directly at 1-800-772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person’s identity prior to providing any information to the caller.

These are critical but common-sense tips for warding off identity thieves. When it comes to protecting your Social Security benefits specifically, the best precaution is to lock down your SSA.gov account.

We detail how to do that in “3 Wise Ways to Protect Your Social Security Number Today.” That article also explains why you should protect your number:

“Criminals who have stolen your Social Security number or other personal information can use that information to create an SSA.gov account in your name. Once they have control of your account, they can use it to divert your benefits.”

So, even if you have yet to start receiving Social Security benefits, create and secure your SSA.gov account before someone else does.

To learn more about creating and using your SSA.gov account, check out the administration’s video that walks you through it:

What’s your take on the rise in Social Security impersonators? Sound off below or over on our Facebook page.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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