Have you or someone you know been the target of a phone scam? Identifying common warning signs of scams, and knowing how to report scammers, can help you protect your identity and your finances.

Phone scammers may call and pretend to be a representative from Medicare, the Social Security Administration, a charity, your doctor’s office, or even pretend to be a family member. Often, scammers will ask for personal information or pressure you to make a quick decision in response to information they give you. To be safe, never provide personal information over the phone, and always verify any information or story with another source.

If you suspect that you have been the target of a phone scam, it is important to report the call. Report any suspected scam to The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging through their toll-free number, 1-855-303-9470, or contact the committee through its website: http://www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline.

Reports submitted to the Committee are examined by investigators who have experience with investment scams, identity theft, bogus sweepstakes and lottery schemes, Medicare and Social Security fraud, and a variety of other senior exploitation issues. If appropriate, investigators will refer you to the proper authorities or organizations that may be able to provide additional support.

“There are so many different types of scams which target seniors. Right now, fake calls claiming to be from the Social Security Administration are common. It can be difficult to learn where to report the scams,” states Karla Fales, CEO of CareWell Services Southwest. “This Committee on Aging Hotline allows seniors to report and know that their concern will be appropriately investigated.”

In this particular scam attempt, a caller will claim to work for the Social Security Administration (SSA) and state that your social security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it’s been involved in a crime. They will often ask you to confirm your social security number in order to reactivate it. The caller may also claim that your bank account is about to be seized and to purchase gift cards in order to keep your money safe. The caller will also ask for you to provide the gift card codes. Your caller ID may say that the call is coming from the SSA number (1-800-772-1213), but the scammer is faking that phone number.

“SSA will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time,” warns the SSA website. “Never give any part of your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you. Or your bank account or credit card number.”

“Scam calls are a persistent threat to seniors,” reminds Fales. If you feel you’ve been the victim of fraud or attempted fraud, please use the Toll-free Committee on Aging Hotline to report it at 1-855-303-9470. Keep up with local scam reports by visiting our website at www.carewellservices.org. For other concerns or questions, call CareWell Services Southwest at 1-800-626-6719 or 269/441–0930. Call us! We’re here to help.

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