If there’s one thing that most of us are taught when we’re first given our Social Security Number (SSN), it’s to keep it private. Unfortunately, we don’t always succeed in this. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently released a warning to consumers to avoid having both their SSNs stolen and bank accounts sucked dry.

They note that there’s been an uptick in phone scammers calling unsuspecting American citizens claiming to be SSA employees, asking for their SSNs and bank account information. They’re often threatened with having their disability or retirement benefits pulled from them if they don’t provide it.

A spokesperson with the SSA notes that while their employees do call those individuals who receive benefits on occasion, they never solicit their personal data when they do. They reportedly never make any threats to withdrawal benefits nor to have someone arrested simply for failing to answer their questions. They note that anyone who does this should be hung up on.

One of the reasons why so many people are falling victim to this latest scam is because the number that’s been coming up on the recipient’s caller ID is a valid SSA number. Even when they miss a call and return the message, the person on the other end of the line greets the caller by saying that they work for the SSA. When asked for the office code where they work, they readily provide a valid one as well.

The SSA spokesperson notes that anyone who’s turned over their SSN or other personal information to a scammer should report it to their Office of the Inspector General.

Scammers who are successful in getting your SSN or bank account information may attempt to sell it on the dark web, to take out credit in your name, to steal every dime that you own or to gain access to the monthly SSA benefits that you receive.

If you live in St. Louis and have a serious impairment — and you’re worried about how your compromised personal information will impact your Missouri disability benefits — then a Social Security Administration attorney can advise you on your legal rights and options.