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Social Security files suits against robocallers

The Social Security Administration is filing lawsuits against companies that help spread scam calls that claim a person’s Social Security account has been suspended. The phone number even falsely reads Social Security Administration. The caller demands payment of a fine or something similar or else the person will face arrest.

On Wednesday, the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, Gail S. Ennis, announced that two landmark civil complaints filed by the Department of Justice in the Eastern District of New York, are seeking injunctions against five telecommunications companies and their owners.

The complaints allege the companies and their owners have for years knowingly helped government imposter telephone scams that reached Americans’ personal phones.

Last spring, the scam calls were so common in Lawrence County and the Tri-State, the Social Security Administration put out a warning to people that they should never give any information over the phone since the Social Security Administration almost never calls people at home about issues.

The Social Security Administration said that the calls were the number one type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and Social Security OIG.

If granted, the court orders sought will prevent the five enjoined companies from continuing to “facilitate the delivery of millions of fraudulent ‘robocalls’ every day from foreign call centers to the U.S. telecommunications system.”

“We have pursued this investigation on behalf of the many Americans who have suffered financial losses because these companies have continued to allow scam calls to reach consumers,” said Inspector General Ennis. “This initial action should serve as a warning to other companies that seek to turn a profit by facilitating scams that exploit — and damage — the public’s trust in Social Security.”

Ennis said government agencies will never threaten you with arrest or other legal action if you do not immediately pay a fine or debt with cash, retail gift cards, wire transfers or internet currency. They will also never demand secrecy from you in resolving a debt or any other problem. If you need to send a payment to Social Security, SSA will send a letter with payment options and appeal rights.

Tracy Lynge, the communications director with the Social Security Office of the Inspector General, told The Ironton Tribune in 2019 the first thing that people should realize is that the agency does not suspend Social Security numbers, ever.

“Those numbers are for recording benefits and they are used for a lot of other things in society, but they were created for and primarily used to track benefits,” Lynge said. “There is no reason to suspend someone’s number.”

She said the agency has gotten reports of hundreds of these types of calls and the fraudsters are using a lot of scare tactics including threats.

“SSA employees will never threaten you, even if you have done something wrong,” Lynge said. “And they will not promise you Social Security benefits in exchange for money. That is a scam every single time. Just hang up.”

The public can report Social Security scams to https://oig.ssa.gov and learn more at oig.ssa.gov/scam.