Beshear Warns of Widespread ‘Suspended’ Social Security Number Scam

Scammers looking to steal Social Security number, victim’s identity and tax refund

FRANKFORT, KY. (March 6, 2019) – Following a warning to Kentuckians earlier this year about a surge in scams through tax season, Attorney General Andy Beshear said there are widespread reports of ‘suspended’ Social Security number scams.

“This tax season scammers are working overtime to steal Social Security numbers, identities and tax refunds,” said Beshear. “As the Social Security scam continues to spread and claim victims, I want Kentuckians to know they should never hesitate to hang up on a caller who asks for their Social Security number – no matter who they say they are.”

A Jefferson County resident recently received the scam call, which appeared to be from an actual Social Security Administration (SSA) phone number. The scammer claimed the victim’s Social Security number had been suspended due to suspicious activity and to use her Social Security number again she must verify it and other personal information or risk arrest.

Over the past six months Beshear’s office has received nearly 20 formal complaints of Social Security scams from Kentuckians in Boone, Breckenridge, Calloway, Campbell, Clark, Fayette, Hardin, Harrison, Henderson, Jefferson, Laurel, Letcher, Metcalfe, Spencer, and Trigg counties.

The scam was also recently reported by the Muhlenberg County Sheriff’s Office.

Reports of the scam are also occurring across the country, including in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi and Ohio.

Beshear said the scam is so widespread that the Federal Trade Commission issued an alert after more than 35,000 people reported the scam last year with financial losses totaling more than $10 million, compared to $210,000 in 2017.

Beshear’s Office of Senior Protection and Mediation asks Kentuckians to follow these tips to help avoid Social Security scams, which can lead to identity and tax refund theft:

  • Hang up on anyone who calls you and asks for your Social Security number, bank account information or credit card number.
  • Know that the SSA is not suspending your Social Security number, nor will they call and threaten you or demand money.
  • Do not trust a caller ID, as scammers use technology to spoof valid phone numbers. To verify any suspicious call contact the real SSA at 1-800-772-1213.

Victims of a Social Security scam may also find out that the scammer used the information collected over the phone to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund. The victim only becomes aware of this crime when they are unable to file their own taxes because the scammer already used their Social Security number to file.

Kentuckians who have experienced tax-related identity theft should follow guidance provided on the IRS website, which includes filing a complaint at identitytheft.gov and placing fraud alerts on credit records.

To report scams to the Social Security Administration’s Fraud hotline dial 1-800-269-0271, and visit Beshear’s website to file an online consumer complaint.

One of Beshear’s top priorities is to protect Kentucky consumers, especially seniors, from scam phone calls.

Beshear, joining 53 of the nation’s attorneys general, sent a letter to the U.S. Senate yesterday to urge the passage of the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act. The attorneys general say the legislation would require voice service providers to participate in a call authentication framework to help block unwanted calls and create an interagency working group to take additional actions to reduce scam calls and hold telemarketers and robocallers accountable.

Since taking office, Beshear’s scam protection team has returned more than $2 million back to Kentuckians who were victimized by businesses or con artists.

Beshear encourages Kentuckians to use the National Do Not Call Registry provided by the FCC and to report scam calls via his office’s online form.

To help Kentuckians stay ahead of scammers Beshear launched Scam Alerts. To enroll in the scam warning system, text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV-311 (468-311) or online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

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