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A recent uptick in scams targeting older adults has seniors wondering who’s really calling them.

As the most common type of reported Social Security scam, imposters fool beneficiaries into thinking they are providing information to the agency. But they soon discover they’ve handed over personal information like Social Security numbers or transferred money that they can’t get back. The four most common Social Security scams include fraudsters claiming the Social Security Administration has suspended your benefits or that you owe money that has to be paid immediately.

But there are red flags you can watch out for and ways to protect your identity.

When the Social Security Administration calls, you pick up. But between October 2022 and June of this year, more than 55,000 people who answered calls from what they thought was the government agency said they were scammed.

Allegations of Social Security scams increased 61.7% in the quarters ending in June 2022 and June, according to the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General.

The most common tactic is simple: Scammers say they’re with the SSA and ask for personal information or money.

Imposter scams gain victims’ trust by appropriating federal agencies’ authority, says Stacey Wood, the Molly Mason Jones Chair in Psychology at Scripps College in Claremont, California. Some impersonate officials with fake IDs or use caller IDs that resemble government phone numbers.

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