OKLAHOMA CITY - You think you're in trouble with the government, but you're not.
Bob Cowling's heart was racing.
He said, “My social security benefits were being suspended.”
The harassing phone call started with a message left on his voicemail, something about freezing Bob’s benefits.
He was given a Dallas phone number to call back.
The follow-up call got pushy fast.
At first, Bob thought he was talking to a real employee from the Social Security Administration.
He had Bob's entire 9-digit social security number, plus his full name, which very few people know him by.
“The guy goes, ‘First, I need to verify your date of birth,’ and I said, ‘You don't need my date of birth, [because] you already have my social security number,” Bob said.
The Social Security Administration will not call you asking for your personal information.
Social Security's Jose Olivero says they'll already have all of that on file, plus, their agents will try to reach you by mail first and won't suspend your benefits out of the blue.
“We have to send you letters, at least two letters and contact you by phone, or at least try to do those things, before we can even think of suspension of checks,” Olivero said.
We decided to turn the tables on the scammer.
The pretender didn't have very good manners and wouldn't let In Your Corner reporter Scott Hines get a word in edgewise.
He kept interrupting Scott saying, “I didn't ask for any information yet. You are calling me and you are telling me to prove myself.”
The In Your Corner bottom line, these criminals want your personal information.
That way they can contact the Social Security Administration and request changes to your direct deposit account and address.
Bob drove straight to his nearest Social Security Administration Office to confirm he wasn't in fact a wanted man.
- Olivero tells me his agency will never threaten to dispatch law enforcement to arrest you.
- The scammer is using a Dallas area code to call would-be victims.
- That’s important because the Social Security Administration also won't call you from a local number.
- They only use 800 numbers.
You can also file a complaint with the Social Security Administration's Inspector General's fraud hotline.