You’ve worked too hard for your money over the years to lose it to scammers.
But, unfortunately, Americans lost almost $153 million to scammers impersonating government agencies in 2019, and more than $37 million to Social Security-specific scams.*
These are people like you, your neighbors, friends and family. These are parents and grandparents, who presumably have a limited amount of money for their retirement and the legacy that they hope to leave behind for their families. The scams have become common enough that the Social Security Administration is speaking out to help people identify scams.*
The Social Security Administration wanted to point a few things out in addition to drawing attention to scams. First, if you receive an unsolicited call from someone who says they’re with the Social Security Administration, chances are they’re not. Many of us have received these calls already, or know someone who has, and some scammers are more believable than others.
In addition to the Social Security Administration cracking down on scammers, the United States Department of Justice has done its part to help by bringing civil actions against any telecommunications companies that have knowingly allowed scam phone calls to be passed along.*
That crackdown has made an impact. But regardless of the changes, the bad news is that the bad guys are quick to adapt. For instance, when the government has made it harder for scammers to robo-call unsuspecting Americans, they switched to text messages to continue the scam. On top of that, the Social Security Administration is even seeing emails that use official-looking documents to lure people in.
At the end of the day, it seems like if there’s a way to communicate with you, these scammers will try to take advantage of it. That’s why it’s so important for people to be aware of scammers. Even people who think they’re taking the right amount of precaution can be deceived.
It’s easy to understand why when it comes to Social Security. People are rightfully emotional about Social Security and susceptible to scams related to it. Social Security is a vital component to so many Americans’ retirement strategies, and when threatened with the prospect of Social Security going away, many people lose sight of the potential scam.
The best way to sniff out potential Social Security scams is to consider how the caller contacted you and if you initiated the contact. According to the Social Security Administration, a phone call that you didn’t initiate is the very first and most obvious sign that you are dealing with a scammer.* These phone calls can be very convincing, and scammers can use software that even makes it look like the call is coming from the official number of the Social Security Administration.
If you are concerned that you may have been targeted, the Social Security Administration launched a hotline for people to be able to easily report scams, and there’s also a website. You can call 800.269.0271 or visit oig.ssa.gov to alert them about potential scams. The money you earned and put away for retirement is yours — make sure your careful with it and vigilant about scams so it doesn’t end up in someone else’s hands.