September 5th, I was hard at work when my phone rang. The number that came up was 00. I sent it to voicemail, because I don’t trust phone calls from people I don’t know. Two minutes passed and the I got another call and again the caller ID on my cell phone said the number was 00. I again sent it to voicemail. My voicemail recorded 10 seconds of that second call…
I heard it say in a robotic voice “This is a call from the Social Security…” Then the message ended. I put my phone down. It almost instantly began to ring again. This time, the phone number was an actual number (980) -625-5114. I send it to voicemail, because that’s not a number I recognize either.
I Google the number and there are five calls listed (on one of those reporting sites) all had it marked as a safe caller on one of the spam call identifier sites. But it also says there is no information on the caller or who the number belongs to. Then my voicemail pops up and lets me know I have a 50 second voicemail.
I open it… again it’s a robotic voice.
“This is a call from the Department of Social Security Administration. The reason you have received this call from our department is to inform you that we have suspended your Social Security Number because we found some suspicious activity so if you want to know about this case, just press one, thank you.”
Alarm bells aren’t going off. But, I’ve never had a scammer call and offer me a recorded message. I decided to return the call. First, I just called the 980 number that was offered. There was one ring and then I was offered more recorded messages, offering me stuff for a minimum fee. Like I could get a $100 shopping card if I hit 1 and entered my credit card number. Well, that seems unlikely and frankly, it doesn’t sound like something the Federal Government would offer. I hit pound to skip it and it brought up another offer. For just $495, I could get two tickets for a 10 day cruise in the Gulf of Mexico; food and drink coupons included. The offer told me it was a $2,000 value… for just $495… Press 1 and enter my credit card number to claim my tickets. So I pressed pound and skipped it. Then a third offer came up. For the rock bottom price of $999 I could book a suite at a resort in the Caribbean, air fare for 4 included, along with coupons for dinner, drinks, and select excursions included in the price. Yeah, I think not.
I hung up and went to the SSA’s website. Where I looked over the scams they had alerts out about. This specific scam didn’t seem listed, they all noted that it was a real, live person asking for information to verify your social to remove the suspension or have a new number issued to you.
I followed the links and reported the scam. About an hour later, the Social Security Administration did actually call me. Apparently, the robot that asks you to press a number to verify information is new. They wanted to verify that it had indeed been a robotic call.
I’m sure if I had taken the call and pressed 1, I would have been connected to someone who wanted me to give them my name, date of birth, social security number, etc and pay a fee to clear the suspension from my SS number.
This is not my first Social Security number scam. Last year, I got a call from the “Internal Revenue Service” demanding I confirm my social security number and paying X amount of money to clear up the warrant that had been issued for my arrest for not paying taxes.
This is just a friendly reminder that for the most part, unless you have friends working in a federal government office and they call you to chat, you are unlikely to get a phone call from the federal government for any reason. If the IRS or Social Security Administration wants to get in touch with you, they send certified letters that must be signed for, they don’t place phone calls. Even the FBI doesn’t make initial contact via phone calls (they just show up where they think they can find you).
So, if you get a robot voice telling you they are calling from the IRS, FBI, or SSA, don’t panic. My suggestion, hang up. If you are unsure if it’s a real call, hang up, get the real phone number for the offices that you think called and call them back.