The Social Security Administration (SSA) and its office of the inspector general have launched a joint public service announcement campaign addressing a nationwide telephone impersonation scheme.

Social Security and the office of the inspector general continue to receive reports from across the country about fraudulent phone calls from people falsely claiming to be Social Security employees.

Calls can even “spoof” Social Security’s national customer service number as the incoming number on the caller ID. The new public service announcements will air on television and radio stations across the country to alert the public to remain vigilant against potential fraud.

“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 Dan O’Connor, regional communications director of Social Security in Philadelphia.

“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.”

Social Security employees do occasionally contact people, generally those who have ongoing business with the agency by telephone for business purposes, according to O’Connor.

However, Social Security employees will never threaten a person or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information.

In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and people should not engage with the caller.

“These calls appear to be happening across the country, so we appreciate SSA’s partnership in this national public outreach effort,” said Gail S. Ennis, the inspector general for the Social Security Administration.

“Our message to the public is simply this: If you or someone you know receives a questionable call claiming to be from SSA or the OIG, just hang up.”

Locally, the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office has received reports from many citizens who have received calls such as those described.

The Halifax County E-911 Center also has received many reports where individuals have been contacted by someone pretending to be a Social Security Administration employee.

“The intent of this type of call may be to steal your identity and/or money from your bank accounts,” said Sheriff Fred S. Clark.

“The caller generally asks you for personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth, your mother’s maiden name or your bank or financial account information.

“The impersonator may state that ‘the SSA computers are down’ or may refer to enrolment in the Medicare prescription drug program,” Clark added.

“The intent of this type of call may be to steal your identity and/or money from your bank accounts, and you should not provide any of this information to these individuals.

“It is possible that an SSA employee may contact you to follow up on a previous application for SSA/Medicare Part D benefits or to follow-up on other business you initiated with SSA,” the sheriff said.

The Social Security Administration will never contact an individual by phone for any personal information.

“If you receive one of these calls, do not give out any personal information, hang up immediately and report the information to the OIG Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.govtreport,” Clark said.