Here's the latest identity theft scam to warn your clients about: suspicious phone calls that claim to be from the Social Security Administration. Don't fall for it, warned Gale Stallworth Stone, acting inspector general of the SSA.
In one case, an automated recording states that the person's Social Security number "has been suspended for suspicion of illegal activity" and the person should contact the provided phone number immediately to resolve the issue. The call concludes by stating if the person does not call the phone number, his or her assets will be frozen until the alleged issue is resolved.
In another case, a caller claims to be from "SSA headquarters" and waits for the person to provide personal information, such as an Social Security number, address and date of birth.
In January, the agency's Office of Inspector General shared similar information from the Federal Trade Commission, which reported an increase in reports of suspicious phone calls from people claiming to be SSA employees.
SSA employees occasionally contact citizens by telephone for customer-service purposes, but usually only in response to a consumer's application for benefits or other inquiry. In those cases, an SSA employee may request the citizen confirm personal information over the phone.
But if a person receives a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from SSA, they should report that information to the Office of Inspector General at 800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.
"Be aware of suspicious calls from unknown sources, and when in doubt, contact the official entity to verify the legitimacy of the call," Ms. Stone said. Do not provide information such as your Social Security or bank account numbers to unknown persons over the phone or internet.
If you have questions about any communication — email, letter, text or phone call — that claims to be from SSA or the OIG, contact your local Social Security office or call Social Security's toll-free customer service number at 800-772-1213 to verify its legitimacy, Ms. Stone said.
Of course, with recent SSA staffing cuts, you may be on hold for a long time.