Phone scams involving Social Security are popping up again.

The Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning Wednesday that the office has been receiving complaints about calls claiming to be from the Social Security Bureau.

In the complaints, officials said the callers have been requesting recipients to provide the last 4 digits of their Social Security Number — often used to verify identities for online services or to get around passwords — and to send money to the caller to clear up an alleged warrant for arrest. The caller often gives detailed information such as a badge number, case number and a warrant number claiming that the warrant is from the State of Texas.

“Do not release any personal information over the phone,” Sheriff Tim Whitcomb said. “If such a call is received, residents are encouraged to call their local police agency.”

ALONG WITH LOCAL authorities, the federal government is hoping to crack down on such calls.

The SSA’s Office of the Inspector General has created a new online reporting system for impostor calls specifically related to Social Security scams, released in November.

“We are taking action to raise awareness and prevent scammers from harming Americans,” Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul said in a release. “I am deeply troubled that our country has not been able to stop these crooks from deceiving some of the most vulnerable members of our society”

He urges those receiving the calls to visit https://secure.ssa.gov/ipff/home.

The reporting form seeks data such as the date of the incident, how you were contacted, information on if and how large of a financial loss was suffered, payment details and other information.

“Awareness is our best hope to thwart the scammers,” said Inspector General Ennis. “Tell your friends and family about them and report them to us when you receive them, but most importantly, just hang up and ignore the calls.”

Social Security employees do occasionally contact people by telephone, generally those who have ongoing business with the agency. However, Social Security employees do not threaten a person with arrest or other legal action if they do not immediately pay a fine or debt. In those cases, the call is fraudulent and people should just hang up.

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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