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Social Security Administration warns of latest local spoofing scams

December 23, 2018

Social Security Administration warns of latest local spoofing scams

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A recent attempt to bilk a Highland Heights senior citizen out of $20,000 has caught the attention of officials in the downtown office of the Social Security Administration.

“Acting Social Security Inspector General Gale Stallworth Stone is urging citizens to remain vigilant of telephone impersonation schemes that exploit the agency’s reputation and authority,” states an advisory being posted on local law enforcement Facebook pages.

The federal warning has been re-issued after the would-be victim’s daughter reported Dec. 7 that the 76-year-old had been receiving calls from someone claiming to be a Social Security official seeking the money.

Highland Heights police said the rationale was that someone else had used her identity and Social Security number to commit fraud and that the $20,000 was needed to clear her name.

Sensing something amiss after the mother took the money out of the bank, an employee called police and the scam was averted.

Brandon Smith, a public affairs specialist with the Cleveland Social Security office, said the problem remains national in scope, with reports of fraudulent phone calls coming in from across the country.

And while legitimate representatives from Social Security may call citizens primarily for “customer service” reasons, those calls are never supposed to be threatening in tone, officials noted.

“Unfortunately, scammers will try anything to mislead and harm innocent people, including scaring them into thinking that something is wrong with their Social Security account and they might be arrested,” Stone stated in the press release.

People should never give out their Social Security numbers or bank accounts over the phone unless they know exactly who is on the other end of the line, officials added.

At the same time, the “Caller I.D.” showing up on a person’s phone has been “spoofed” in recent months to trick people into thinking that it really is someone from Social Security calling them.

“Some of these impersonation calls can show the incoming number as 1-800-772-1213,” so that it appears the administration is calling, the press release states, referring to the “spoof” numbers.

Attempts to obtain any information over the internet should also be avoided, officials added.

“I encourage everyone to remain watchful of these schemes and to alert family members and friends of their prevalence,” Stone added.

Suspicious calls from anyone claiming to be with the SSA should be reported to the Office of Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

Stone pointed out in the press release that:

-- Real SSA employees will never threaten people for information

-- They will not state that anyone faces potential arrest or other legal action for failing to provide information.

-- In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up. 

“We will continue to track these scams and warn citizens, so that they can stay several steps ahead of these thieves,” Stone concluded.

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