The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Beware of Phone Scams Social Security Admin. Does Not Call for Personal Data

 


If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Likewise, if it sounds too dark and negative, it may not be true.

The telephone in all of its assets is also a pipeline for scammers trying to get into your personal data, from bank account numbers to Social Security numbers. Fear is one of their biggest tactics.

Cheyenne County Sheriff Adam Frerichs said the department receives at least three to five reports of scam calls every day. The calls vary from reports of a family member in a distant jail and needing bail money to a caller identifying as a federal employee regarding a fraudulent account.

“The big one now is the Social Security Administration telling people that their number is suspended,” Frerichs said.

He said some callers offer to re-establish the account, and the personal bank account. All of these offers usually come with the “need” for personal information.

In December 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said it was receiving reports about people pretending to be from the Social Security Administration who are trying to get your ID number and your money, according to a press release from the FTC. The scenario is frequently that a person’s Social Security number has been used in connection with a crime and thus has been blocked or deactivated. At this point, the caller may ask to confirm the Social Security number.

Frerichs confirmed what the SSA adamantly says about such phone calls. He added that the SSA already knows your ID number.

“Any time the federal government contacts you, it is never, ever, by phone,” Frerichs said.

He added that the practice of “spoofing,” or copying another phone number, leads to a lot of

confusion unless a person is aware of the warning signs. He said if a person does receive a call identified as the Social Security Administration, hang up and call 1-800-772-1213. He did caution that a call to the SSA could include long wait time. Inspector General of Social Security Gail S. Ennis also warned against spoofed calls. Ennis reported the Office of the Inspector General receiving phone calls displaying as the Fraud Hotline on a caller-ID. Ennis said these calls are scams, adding that the Office of the Inspector General does not do outgoing calls from the Fraud Hotline.

The FTC goes on to say the SSA will not ask a person to pay anything, and it won’t threaten a person’s benefits. Additionally, the federal government does not take payments by wire transfers or gift cards.

Frerichs encourages people to always remember to never give out personal data, unless it is an agency you have contacted and one you trust.

 

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