You receive a phone call from someone who claims to be from the government informing you that your Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended. The caller sounds pleasant, professional and appears to be a bona fide government official.
Should you do exactly what the caller instructs you to do?
The Federal Trade Commission says it has received numerous reports about scammers trying to con people out of their personal information by telling them that they need to “reactivate” their allegedly “suspended” SSNs. The scammers say the SSN was suspended because of some connection to fraud or other criminal activity, according to the FTC. The fraudsters will then give you a phone number to call to resolve the matter – and this is where they’ll ask you to provide your personal information.
The red flag is: Social Security numbers are never suspended. This is another variation of a government imposter scam that’s seeking to con you into providing your SSN, bank account number, or other personal information. In this ploy, the caller claims to be protecting you from a scam while trying to lure you into one.
The FTC offers a few tips to safeguard your personally identifiable information:
-- Never give or confirm PPI over the phone, via email or on a website until you know for certain who is asking for it.
-- Do not trust a name, phone number or email address just because it seems to be connected with the U.S. government. Con artists typically use official-sounding names and may fake caller ID or email addresses to trick you. In most cases, official information from the government is sent via the U.S. Postal Service.
-- Always contact government agencies directly, using telephone numbers and website addresses you know to be authentic.
If someone has tried to steal your personal information by pretending to be from the government, report it to the FTC.