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There has been an upsurge in Social Security scams. How to avoid being a victim of one

he most recent scam involves callers claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. Protect yourself by never giving out personal information to someone you don’t know.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently issued a warning about an upsurge in schemes targeting Social Security recipients. Someone calls you over the phone claiming to be from the SSA and says your Social Security accounts have been suspended due to suspicion of illegal activity. They may be a real live person or a robocaller. The caller then says that if you fail to resolve the issue by calling back a certain phone number, then your assets will be frozen.

Reporting an attempted scam helps the SSA alert the public to both the frequency and the nature of these potential frauds. You're not only protecting yourself, but also helpingprotect the of vital assets can frighten elderly Social Security recipients into giving the caller whatever information he or she asks for.

And guess what: The info you provide – which may include your Social Security number, your mother's maiden name, your date of birth and your bank account numbers – will be used for identity theft.

Unfortunately, this is only the most recent of many scams targeting Social Security recipients. Several years ago, many Social Security beneficiaries received an email purporting to be from the SSA. It used a highly official-looking email address, "," and asked recipients to click on a link to receive augmented protection for their benefits.

Three steps to protect yourself

1. Hang up immediately: If you are contacted out of the blue by the SSA, it is in all probability a fraudster. The SSA says it calls Social Security beneficiaries only in response to something the beneficiary has initiated, such as a question or request for help. So if you get an unsolicited call from the SSA, it's likely not them.

Hang up immediately. Some robocalls will ask you to press a button to stop getting these calls. Don't respond! Fraudsters use these responses to identify potential victims.

If you have contacted the SSA recently and want to verify that the caller is actually from the agency, call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213. This is a customer service line through which you can ascertain whether the caller is authentic and determine what they were calling about.

2. Never provide personal information over the telephone to an unknown caller: Don't give out your personal information over the telephone to someone you don't know, whether they seem to be threatening action or not.

The information is likely to be used in ways that will harm you, not help you. If the caller asks to verify information, don't say "yes." They may be recording your voice. The word "yes" can then be used out of context – to authorize charges on your bank accounts and credit cards, for example.

3. Report the call to the SSA: Finally, you should report the call to the SSA. Scams involving people who claim to be from the SSA are frequent enough that the SSA has a Fraud Hotline. You can reach it at 1-800-269-0271 or, if you're hearing-impaired, at 1-866-501-2101 (TTY). You can also report fraud online at

Reporting an attempted scam helps the SSA alert the public to both the frequency and the nature of these potential frauds. You're not only protecting yourself, but also helping protect the public.