A phone scam—with callers claiming to be from the Social Security Administration—is going around targeting local residents in attempts to get personal information to steal their identity. The SSA said it is happening nationwide over the past few days.

Ashlea Olson, administrative assistant at the Chetek Police Department said the department said residents have stopped in and called their department about it.

Olson said residents say the caller knows their name, then claims to be from the Social Security Administration and says they have to activate the resident’s Social Security Number. The scammer then asks the resident to state their SSN.

But it’s a scam, Olson warned. Fortunately, most people have not fallen for the trickery and have reported it to police.

But the scams can be easy to fall for, because they are designed to be. The caller may “spoof” a fake number on the caller ID, showing a local number or the SSA’s fraud hotline, 800-269-0271.

SSA employees do call residents for official purposes, according to the SSA website, however, they will never call from the 800-269-0271 number. Also, legitimate SSA calls will never threaten you for information or promise official action in exchange for personal information or payment. If they do, they are scams.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot local police can do, because the scam artists are likely calling from overseas, Olson said. 

However, residents can report the scams to the SSA and the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General, by calling the hotline, 800-269-0271, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or going to https://oig.ssa.gov/report. Social Security scams can also be reported to the Federal Trade Commission at https://identitytheft.gov/ssa.

Olson recommended anyone who has fallen for a scam to notify the SSA, and to monitor their accounts. Both websites have ways to report it, as well as steps to take if you have fallen for a scam.

“We urge you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security number or bank account information to unknown people over the phone or Internet,” said Nancy A. Berryhill, acting commissioner of Social Security. “If you receive a call and are not expecting one, you must be extra careful—you can always get the caller’s information, hang up and contact the official phone number of the business or agency the caller claims to represent. Do not reveal personal data to a stranger who calls you.”

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