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Police warn of Social Security scam calls in Palos Park

police lights Sun-Times file photo

Sun-Times file photo

Residents were cautioned Friday evening to be alert for calls from scam artists pretending to be with the Social Security Administration, according to police in southwest suburban Palos Park.

The scam artists are attempting to fool people into giving them their Social Security numbers and money, Palos Park police said. The Federal Trade Commission has received a large number of complaints from consumers targeted in the Social Security scam.

The scammer tells would-be victims their Social Security number has been used in a crime, and they must pay a fee to reactivate it or get a new number, police said. The person is then asked to give their Social Security number during the call.

Other versions of the scam reportedly include victims being told their bank accounts were seized, and that they should transfer their money to the caller for safekeeping or they could lose their Social Security benefits since their Social Security number was used to apply for credit cards.

Police told residents the SSA never calls and asks for a person’s Social Security number, a request for money or threatens someone’s benefits. Tips from the FTC include never giving one’s Social Security number to anyone, not confirming the last four digits of the number and not giving a bank account or credit card number to anybody who reaches out for them.

Residents were also warned by police not to be fooled by the SSA’s real phone number of 1-(800) 772-1213 appearing on caller ID, since scammers can easily show any number with a technique called spoofing. In addition, anyone who calls and instructs to wire money, pay with a gift card or send cash is a scammer, regardless of who they introduce themselves as.

If a resident gets an unsolicited call from someone who claims they are from the SSA, they should hang up and then call the real SSA at 1-(800) 772-1213, police said. A recorded message at the number cautions about scams and tells callers to the call the office of inspector general at 1-(800) 772-1213 or visit oig.ssa.gov/report to report scams.