Social security imposter: Your account has been 'compromised'

Suspicious calls under federal investigation

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - The voice mail one Altamonte Springs woman received was enough to make her heart skip -- her social security account had been compromised.

Kathrine Grimes, 70, said the call came from a number with a Baltimore area code.

“When you first hear something like that you get that little …” Grimes didn’t finish the thought, but anyone that has received one of those “call or else” messages, knows exactly what she means.

The calls went to her personal cellphone twice in the same day; it was a woman with a matter-of-fact recorded message Grimes said she will never forget.

“Your Social Security has been compromised,” Grimes recalled. “And if you don’t act immediately by calling this number, your assets will be frozen."

The number, 443-648-5751, has no association with the Social Security Administration.

News 6 checked with the SSA and the agency confirmed investigators have been tracking similar complaints from citizens coast-to-coast.

SSA spokesman Andrew Cannarsa told News 6 the imposter scheme has been around for a few years now.

“In FY2017 (October 2016 to September 2017), OIG (Office of the Inspector General), received over 3,000 reports of suspected impersonation scams across the country,” Cannarsa said.

Although the SSA didn’t have data for Florida, Cannarsa told News 6,  “This is an ongoing issue, as scammers cast a wide net with these calls.”

Cannarsa stressed that “public outreach and education is important.”

On Jan. 17, the Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone, issued a statement “warning citizens about ongoing Social Security Administration (SSA) employee impersonation schemes.”

According to the press advisory, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), recently reported an increase of suspicious calls from people claiming to be SSA employees.

Grimes decided to call the local Social Security office in Orlando and confirmed her account had not be hacked or compromised.

“It was fine. I listen to channel 6 and your reports on scams (Schemes) and Rip offs, and I thought, I’m not calling that number,” Grimes said.

Citizens may report imposter calls to the OIG at 1-800-269-0271 or online via https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

If a person has questions about any communication — email, letter, text or phone call — that claims to be from SSA or the OIG, contact your local Social Security office, or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to verify its legitimacy.  (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.)
 

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