Annoyingly enough, I received one of these calls today on my cellphone. I didn’t answer, of course, so they left a voice message.

My Social Security number had been associated with crime, they said. If I didn’t call them back immediately, they would call the police and take out a warrant for my arrest. And so on...

While scam calls can come from any area code, sometimes they use the real Social Security Administration phone number, 800-772-1213. It’s easy for them to spoof, or fake, any number.

However, there’s one big difference. No one from Social Security is going to call you with threats. If Social Security has something to say to you, it will send a letter in the mail.

There are many reasons not to give out your personal information to someone you don’t know, but the biggest ones are that your benefits can be diverted, and your identity can be stolen.

To protect yourself, make use of your Caller ID. If you don’t recognize the number, don’t answer. And leave your Social Security card at home when you go out.

If something doesn’t sound right on a phone call you do answer, hang up. The minute someone asks you to verify anything — your name, address, bank information, Social Security number — or threatens you in any way, just hang up.

To hear what is said in these scam calls, go online to www.consumer.ftc.gov and put “Social Security scam” in the search box. Click on “This is what a Social Security scam sounds like.” You can hear a recording of a call and know what to expect if you do answer one.

© 2019 King Features Synd., Inc.

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