Last week I received a phone call that froze my heart in its tracks and sent my anxiety skyrocketing; it was from a Washington D.C. number. Since I generally do not answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize, I let this one go to voice mail. The message I heard was bone-chilling (as it would be to anyone in the same financially-disadvantaged boat as I am): “the Social Security Administration is going to cut off your payments until further clearance. If you believe this is in error, call (this number).” Of course it was “in error” though I did not call them back until today, at which time I got this message, “Your call cannot be completed as dialed” twice, once I got a busy signal and the fourth time I dialed I got dead air.
I had been genuinely worried after I got those messages from the alleged “Social Security Administration (SSA),” though on the other hand — because I was raised with the mindset to “question everything you hear/read and don’t take everything at face value” — I thought I smelled something fishy. going on, like something was not quite right. For one, because it was a robocall, and two, I thought I had read somewhere that federal governmental agencies, such as the IRS and so on, generally will not call you but rather send mail. Today after I spoke to an actual employee at the SSA, I learned that they would not make robocalls and that yes, they would probably send a hard-copy letter rather than call people.
So after my fourth attempt to call the SSA, I had an “Aha!!! lightbulb over the head” moment in which I decided it would be a good idea to call the local SSA office in our county seat. I explained about the call and told the helpful woman what I had been told, and she confirmed my suspicions: “It was a fraudulent call.” Whew!! Imagine my belief at finding that my income is (hopefully) safe in the foreseeable future.
She explained, “Scammers will say that your payments are being cut, or that your social security card has been hacked, or found at a crime scene.” She reminded me that people should NEVER give out their social security numbers over the phone unless, for example, you are calling the SSA as I did. Some entities, such as my bank, use it to identify who you are and of course today the SSA wanted to make sure they were actually dealing with me. So I answered all the security questions and then was given the assurance that the scary heart-stopping phone call was indeed just a scam. She gave me a web site, www.oig.ssa.gov that I (or anyone else who gets a similar phone call allegedly from the SSA) can go on to report the call.
So I thanked her for all her help, jumped on the computer to go to that web site, and decided to post this on Medium just in case any of you out there (or someone you know) may receive calls such as this. I am also thinking AARP should take note, because as a Social Security scam, I wonder if this one is just targeting those of us who are in the 50-plus cohort or if anyone in the general population may receive these calls. If you do, DON’T give them your social security and then DO go to the above web site and report the fraudulent call.
This has been a public service announcement to warn others about this scam. You are welcome! Cheers!!