W.Va. AG alerts consumers to social security scam

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urged consumers to beware of the ever-present Social Security scam and not give in to intimidation tactics used by scammers.

This prevalent scam often involves unsolicited calls from someone who claims to be with the Social Security Administration. The impostor tells the consumer their account has been frozen or compromised and will sometimes threaten arrest.

“This scam is particularly troubling to consumers because no one wants to lose their benefits,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “If you get one of these calls, hang up and report the call to local authorities and our office. Don’t give in to intimidation tactics and never give out your Social Security number.”

Impostors may also ask consumers to verify personal information, including their Social Security number, to replace a Social Security card, fix an issue with their online account, process a cost-of-living adjustment or rectify benefits that have been underpaid and need adjustment.

Scammers may “spoof” local numbers to hide the number they are calling from in hopes the consumer will pick up.

The impostors will sometimes even threaten legal action against consumers who do not comply.

In recent weeks, scammers claiming to represent the Federal Reserve have also called consumers in attempts to steal Social Security information.

The Social Security scam is particularly active across West Virginia at present.

One consumer lost $2,500 to this scam because she felt so pressured by the scammer. Several other West Virginia consumers recently reported having given out their Social Security numbers.

Consumers should always verify any information by calling the Social Security Administration’s legitimate telephone number and never make payments using wire transfer, gift cards or cash. Most government agencies and reputable companies will not seek personal information via an unsolicited phone call or email.

Anyone receiving such a call should report the information to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General. Its fraud hotline can be reached by phone at 1-800-269-0271 or online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report.

Anyone with questions or who believes they may have been a victim of a scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com