Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, is warning older Americans of continuing scam attempts involving criminals posing as Social Security Administration (SSA) employees and attempting to steal seniors’ hard-earned savings and personal information. The Social Security impersonation scam was the most common fraud reported to the Committee’s Fraud Hotline last year, and it is on track to be the most-reported scam again this year.
Most reports of this scam follow a similar pattern. Victims receive an unsolicited phone call purporting to come from the SSA. Scammers often use robocalls so the victims are met with an automated voice when they answer the phone. The automated message warns of a problem with the victims’ Social Security number (SSN) or Social Security account and urges them to press “1” to be connected with an agent. Victims who press “1” are connected with a scammer, who tells them that their Social Security account is about to be suspended, often because it is allegedly connected to a crime in some way. The fraudster will claim that the situation can only be resolved by providing sensitive personal information or paying a sum of money using a specified means of payment, such as gift cards, a wire transfer, or cash.
The Social Security Administration will never:
- Threaten to suspend your Social Security number or benefits or take other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee;
- Call demanding an immediate payment or require a specific means of payment, such as a retail gift card, wire transfer, or cash;
- Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment; or
- Demand secrecy in handling a Social Security-related problem.
“As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, protecting seniors from fraud and abuse is one of my top priorities,” said Senator Collins. “These Social Security imposters will stop at nothing to steal seniors’ hard-earned savings. Raising awareness—particularly among older Americans who are more likely to be targeted—and ramping up the government’s response are key to defeating this scam. Anyone receiving this type of call should hang up immediately and report it to my Committee’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.”
Additional information on the Social Security scam, and other scams, is available in the Aging Committee’s 2020 Fraud Book. Seniors can also learn more about the Social Security scam from the SSA Office of the Inspector General: https://oig.ssa.gov/scam and the Federal Trade Commission: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0037-imposter-scams.
The Aging Committee has held 25 hearings in the past seven years to examine scams affecting older Americans, including a January 29th hearing highlighting the Social Security scam. Senator Collins also led a letter to the Social Security Administration, and Senators Collins and Casey led letters to the SSA Office of the Inspector General, Federal Trade Commission, and Elder Justice Coordinating Council to request information about how these agencies are addressing the Social Security scam and to urge agency leaders to take action to protect seniors.