If you thought you dodged the IRS scam this season, think again! Scammers are no longer disguising themselves as IRS agents but now have a new scheme, impersonating the Social Security Administration.
Related: See the 2021 update of this article: Tax Scams Reach Highest Point since Pandemic Began
In a surprising turn of events, Hiya has discovered that the IRS scam has actually declined in recent months, with the Social Security scam taking its place as the most prevalent during this year’s tax season, surging more than 880% since last year.
Contacting unsuspecting citizens across the U.S., or even spoofing numbers to look like the SSA, automated calls claim that due to fraudulent activity, a victim’s social security number will be suspended until the call is returned to verify the account. Scammers will make multiple attempts to catch a victim’s attention, using scare tactics as a final attempt. They threaten the victim that if they do not call back a federal agent will be contacting them.
Based on Hiya’s analysis of more than 13 billion calls globally each month, Hiya’s data shows that the IRS scam peaked in August of 2018, but has since decreased by 60%. However, just as the IRS scam started to decrease, the Social Security scam started to pick up steam. In fact, since just the beginning of the year, it has grown 40%, with a whopping 880% growth since this time last year.
While some citizens have made a point not to take the calls seriously, the FTC reported that in 2018 over 35,000 citizens reported the scam equating to about $10 million in losses.
“Scammers are constantly evolving their tactics and looking for new ways to target unsuspecting consumers. The rise of the Social Security scam is a perfect example of this, as many Americans have become aware of the IRS scam and are less likely to fall victim to it,” said Alex Algard, Hiya Founder and CEO. “Hiya leverages real-time signals to identify new spam campaigns in minutes to ensure consumers are protected and informed about emerging scams.”
Top Areas Affected by the Social Security Scam:
- (301) Maryland
- (218) Minnesota
- (619) San Diego, CA
- (312) Chicago. IL
- (714) Anaheim, CA
- (240) Maryland
- (480) Phoenix, AZ
- (303) Denver, CO
- (806) Amarillo, TX
- (702) Las Vegas, NV
To avoid becoming a victim of the Social Security Scam here are a few things to keep in mind:
- If you receive a call about your Social Security being suspended and bank account being seized, it’s a hoax. The SSA will not request that you verify your number over the phone without you expecting their call.
- SSA will never call to put threatening that your benefits are in jeopardy. They will never request you wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards.
- Despite your caller ID identifying a call to be the SSA, be aware that the official SSA number is 1-800-772-1213. If you receive, a call from the SSA or this number but are unsure if you are speaking with an official SSA agent, hang-up immediately and call SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213 to confirm you are speaking with an official SSA agent.
- Never give out your Social Security number, bank account information, or personal identification to unexpected callers.
- If you have been a victim or have received a call similar to the SSA scam, report it to the FTC and FCC to help raise awareness.