How to avoid being scammed by Social Security robocalls: "Just hang up"

“Just hang up” on Social Security robocalls

Last Updated Dec 26, 2019 10:36 AM EST

Americans saw a dramatic increase in robocalls from scammers this year, despite regulators' efforts to crack down on the problem. The Social Security Administration is the number one government agency targeted by scam artists, the Federal Trade Commission said. 

In the first half of this year, people filed nearly 73,000 reports of Social Security impostors, reporting losses of $17 million.

The impostors "try to scare you, frighten you. They say the police are coming to your house; they say you need to give us your Social Security number, it's been compromised," CBS News consumer investigative correspondent Anna Werner said on "CBS This Morning" Thursday. 

If you receive a call from someone asking for your Social Security number, it's not real, Warner said. 

"Nobody from the Social Security Administration is going to call you," she said. "The U.S. Marshals Service is one of the entities that is getting spoofed and faked now, and they're saying to people, 'Look, if we need to talk to you, we're going to come to your house with a badge. … We are not going to give you warning that we're coming."

The best advice, Warner said, is to just hang up the phone and block the number.  

"Don't panic when they call. Hang up the phone," she said. "If they say it's about Social Security, just hang up."

Phone companies are putting in place standards known as SHAKEN/STIR to help verify the numbers given in Caller ID and go after scammers, but it hasn't ended the calls, Warner said. 

"It's really not solved yet, so unfortunately in the meantime it's up to you, the consumer, to watch out," she said.

Anyone receiving robocalls also can report them to the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission or Social Security Administration to help officials determine trends. Here are links to file a report with each: