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The new #1 phone scam in America is…

…someone claiming to be calling on behalf of the Social Security Administration. They say your benefits have been suspended for non-payment of payroll taxes, and there’s a warrant out for your arrest. It’s a scam, each and every time, and always has been, yet you keep falling for it.

Isn’t it obvious when you’ve been paying into SS all your working life? Isn’t this a dead giveaway: to avoid arrest, you must pay the back taxes in the form of a gift card or wire transfer — or even one of those green dot cards from Walmart? Isn’t that enough to give you a clue?

Yet according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Social Security imposter phone scam is the most reported scam to the agency. “As soon as a caller threatens you, or demands you pay them with a gift card or by wiring money, it’s a scam. Even if the caller ID tells you otherwise,” said FTC Consumer Education Specialist Jim Kreidler.

All you have to remember is this: the Social Security Administration will NEVER initiate a phone call to you. EVER. The only time a SSA agent will call you is to return your call. If your caller ID shows “Social Security” or “Social Security Admn” is calling, do not answer. The scammer is using caller ID spoofing technology to make you think it’s the legitimate agency on the line.

Live by these two rules:

  1. No government agency – not one – will ever initiate a phone call to you. It may return your call, but not initiate a call.
  2. Do not answer calls you do not recognize on your caller ID, even if the area code is familiar. Robocalls are automated to appear familiar to you on caller ID, sometimes even using your own phone number to raise your curiosity.

If you ignore those rules and happen to answer a Social Security imposter scam call, Kriedler begs you to remember:

  • Your Social Security number is not about to be suspended.
  • The SSA will never call you, period.
  • Even if it did, the real SSA would never request payment via gift card, wire transfer or some other goofy payment method designed to launder the paper trail.

Meet me halfway here. Live by the rules. Monitor your caller ID with skepticism and diligence. Just because your phone rings doesn’t mean you have to answer it.

Copyright 2020 Wise Choices TM. All rights reserved.

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