When a stranger calls you and offers to help you with your Social Security Disability Application, you should be skeptical, very skeptical.
The scam goes like this:
You receive a phone call from a person who offers to help you with your Social Security Disability Insurance claim, but they need just a little more information. Their caller ID number is unfamiliar to you. They are vague about the company they work with and how they got your phone number. They are not a Southern Illinois Social Security Disability representative.
What information are they asking for?
Your Social Security number, your bank account numbers, your mother’s maiden name, your date and place of birth, your spouse’s Social Security number….
Is this information necessary when you file a Social Security Disability Insurance claim?
Should you give it to someone you have never met, someone you did not call?
The Social Security Inspector General offers this advice, which I will repeat as a Southern Illinois Social Security attorney:
“Remain vigilant and protect your personal information.”
“You should never provide your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or other personal information by telephone or over the Internet unless you are extremely confident of the source to which you are providing the information.”
“If you have questions about any communication—phone call, email, letter, or text—that claims to be from or have a connection to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Inspector General recommends you 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.)”
“You may report suspicious activity or communications involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline at https://oig.ssa.gov/report, or by phone at 1-800-269-0271, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday. (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call the OIG TTY number at 1-866-501-2101.)”
See my earlier blog post about a recent trend I am seeing in Southern Illinois in my line of work as a Southern Illinois Disability attorney. While the Social Security Inspector General suggests that the callers are “phishing” or just guessing that you filed a claim, the pattern I am seeing from clients in Jackson County, Perry County, Williamson County, Washington County, and Franklin County Illinois is much more disturbing. The callers know details about their medical problems and work history that only the Social Security Administration should know. Given the recent breaches of government data for the IRS, the Office of Personnel Management, and background screening for top secret clearances in the military and administrative law judges, a data leak or hack is not beyond the realm of possibility.
If you feel you have been contacted by someone who has your private information, contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline and protect yourself and others from identity theft.
Joni Beth Bailey is a Southern Illinois Social Security Disability attorney.