Social Security impersonation calls are now the nation’s most-reported phone scam, according to an annual report from the Senate Aging Committee released Wednesday.
Fraudulent IRS calls were the most prevalent scam the previous five years.
The typical scam involves a robocall from someone impersonating the Social Security Administration (SSA) and asking for the recipient’s personal information. The calls resulted in scammers bilking Americans, mostly seniors, for $38 million last year, according to the Senate report, citing the Federal Trade Commission.
SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul and Inspector General Gail Ennis, both confirmed in 2019, told members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging at a hearing Wednesday that they have made combating the scams a top priority.
“The magnitude of this problem caught us off guard,” Saul said. “Americans trust our agencies and we do not allow swindlemen to erode that trust.”
Saul stressed that educating Americans about which calls are suspicious is the best way to tackle the problem. He said that now when anyone visits the agency’s website, they’ll see a banner linking to tips on how to avoid the scam.
Furthermore, he said the agency has started sending Social Security recipients letters warning about the scams, and all envelopes will provide information about the problem.
“Everyone needs to hear this message,” Saul said. “If a caller says there’s a problem with your Social Security number or account, hang up. Don’t provide personal information. Report it at oig.ssa.gov.”
The SSA and Office of the Inspector General partnered to create an online reporting forum so they can investigate and stop the scammers. They said they have received more than 115,000 reports of fraudulent calls since the forum went live in mid-November.Read Full Article