TAMPA, Fla. — Your personal information and money is at risk.
The Federal Trade Commission warns scammers are using a new method to try to steal your family's money and Social Security numbers.
Potential victims are receiving calls telling them their Social Security number is suspended and that they need to confirm that number to get it reinstated. They are also being told to withdraw money or buy gift cards.
Once the number is confirmed, the crooks steal it to open up fraudulent accounts. Any money or gift cards sent are quickly spent.
Officials received more than 76,000 complaints in the past 12 months that's resulted in $19 million in losses.
The FTC says consumers can protect themselves by following these four steps:
- Do not trust caller ID
Scammers can use a device to disguise their phone number. Fake calls may show up on caller ID as the Social Security Administration and look like the agency’s real number.
- Never give a caller your Social Security number or other personal information
Crooks who steal your information may open accounts in your name, which can hurt your credit score. If you accidentally gave a caller your information, visit IdentityTheft.gov/SSA to learn steps you can take to protect your credit and identity.
- Call the real Social Security Administration
The SSA will never contact you without alerting you ahead of time. You can always call the agency directly at (800) 772-1213 to find out if the SSA is really trying to reach you and why.
- Talk about scams
Potential victims may recognize an IRS scam, but might not catch on to a newer scam. You can get the word out to family and friends that the SSA scam is just a new version of an older rip-off scheme.