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In 2021, internet scams were legion. From dating app scams, crypto and investment fraud, data breaches and even Google ad thefts, chances are you or someone you know has been a victim. In 2022, some experts warn that Social Security scams will be on the rise.
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The FBI reported that it receives more than 800,000 internet crime reports every year, which adds up to an estimated $4 billion in losses. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance to be on the lookout for impostors who will say they’re from the IRS, Social Security Administration (SSA), lottery promoters, utility companies, banks and card companies, or even a friend or relative in distress. They’ll ask for payment using some untraceable methods such as money wiring services, Bitcoin payments, gift cards and cash, according to the Rockford Register
Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the SSA provide tips to protect consumers.
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First of all, the FTC reminds people on its website that the SSA will never call to request you to pay anything, nor threaten your benefits. Your caller ID might show the SSA’s real phone number (1-800-772-1213), but that’s not the real SSA calling. Computers make it easy to show any number on caller ID. “You can’t trust what you see there,” according to the SSA.
It also warns to never give your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you — not even the last 4 digits. Giving a bank account or credit card number to anybody who contacts you also goes against your best interest and shouldn’t be done under any circumstance.
“Remember that anyone who tells you to wire money, pay with a gift card, or send cash is a scammer. Always. No matter who they say they are,” it says.
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In addition, the SSA reminds people on its website that “if there is a problem, we will mail you a letter. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us.” The site adds that the latest scam trick of using robocalls or live callers has increased.
The SSA notes that scammers may threaten arrest or other legal action, or may offer to increase benefits, protect assets or resolve identity theft. They often demand payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, pre-paid debit cards, internet currency or mailing cash.
“Our employees will never threaten you for information or promise a benefit in exchange for personal information or money,” it adds.
See: How To Avoid Being Scammed After a Natural Disaster
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In summation, the SSA will never suspend Social Security numbers (SSN); demand immediate payment; require payment by cash, gift card, pre-paid debit card, internet currency, or wire transfer; or ask for personal details or banking information to give you a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
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