HOUSTON – The coronavirus pandemic shut down a lot of operations, but there is actually one we all wanted to go away: those scam calls claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. Like a stubborn weed, however, they just keep coming back. The calls tapered off from March through late July, but in recent weeks, people have started getting them again.
How to identify a scam call
“There are legal enforcement actions which have been filed on your social security number involving fraudulent activities,” said the pre-recorded message when one viewer answered his phone.
The message asks you to call them back or they will begin “legal proceedings” against you. If you do call, they will attempt to get you to “verify” or “confirm” your social security number. Don’t ever give your social security number to anyone by phone, not even the last four digits.
The Social Security Administration will never call you and threaten you with arrest or any other kind of legal action. You should just hang up the phone on anyone who makes those statements. If you worry a call you received could be legitimate, you can call that office directly. The number to the SSA is 1-800-772-1213.
How to make the calls stop
Making the calls stop is the tougher part. You can block the numbers the scammers are calling from, but they will likely just use another number the next time they call.
If you want to try and help investigators catch the fraudsters, you have to report the calls. It worked with the very similar IRS call scam when the FBI arrested 60 people across the US, including three men in Fort Bend County for working with Indian call centers and tricking Americans out of hundreds of millions of dollars over 4 years.
The Social Security Office of the Inspector General has set up a complaint form to collect information on the calls. You can also call the same office at 1-800-269-0271. They want to know things like the number the scammers asked you to call and how the caller identified themselves. When these details are collected from thousands or millions of people, they can help investigators trace the crimes back to the thieves.