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Experts offer warnings, advice as social security scams become more prevalent

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - Social security scams are hitting central North Carolina hard. They try to create fear among people that they'll lose their benefits or worse.

Some people have lost a lot of money to the scammers while others have given up valuable personal information.

Both the local office of the Social Security Administration and the North Carolina Attorney General said the scam calls are causing big problems and confusion. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning.

Thomas Allen, of Zebulon, was victimized by a similar scam and wants to warn others. It started when he got a phone call from someone claiming there was a problem with his social security card.

In many cases, the scammers impersonate the real Social Security Administration by cloning the agencies phone number on caller ID.

When they call, they make threats like saying they'll suspend a social security number.

Some of the calls involve real people. Some involve computerized voice message.

In Allen’s case, he was told his social security card was found in Texas in a blood-covered vehicle filled with drugs and they needed proof he wasn’t there.

“I gave them the last four digits of my social security number,” Allen said.

“The Social Security Administration is never going to call you and ask for your social security number. They already know it,” said Katherine Hutt of the Better Business Bureau.

The scammers use all kinds of techniques including intimidation. One call recorded by the Federal Trade Commission has the voice of a man saying: 

“If I don’t hear a call from you, we will have to issue an arrest warrant under your name and get you arrested.”

Hutt told CBS News this scam is just beginning to blossom.

"We're just starting to see the Social Security Administration be impersonated in a big way," she said.

In Allen’s case, he gave up his personal information because he believed it was the right thing to do.

“I did because she sounded so real,’’ he said.

Later, when he called the number left by the scammer to check on his so-called case, the number no longer unworked.

“The call was rejected," Allen said.

Officials say there’s a growing number of older Americans who are getting victimized by scammers and Allen is a prime target.

“I get a lot of strange calls,’’ he said. “I’ve had people calling me up, say they had oil wells to sell me in Oklahoma. They want to sell me rings.”

Allen got five calls from scammers in the hour when CBS 17 was interviewing him. 

Anyone who gets calls like that is encouraged to hang up. Never give out personal information on the phone.

Click here to report scam calls of people impersonating a Social Security employee.


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