PENSACOLA — With tax season in full swing, the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission are warning area residents that scammers are ramping up their efforts to steal Social Security numbers so they can file fraudulent tax returns.

How the scam works

Callers claim to be from the Social Security Administration or another government entity. The name on caller ID may even back up that claim. They then say your SSN has been used to fraudulently apply for a credit card or commit another crime.

In order to fix the situation, they supposedly need you to confirm your SSN and other personal information. When the person being called doesn't cooperate, the scammer threatens to take you to court or have your Social Security number blocked or revoked.

No matter the details, the stories are designed to induce fear. Scammers hope that putting the people they call under pressure will make the person who answers the phone provide their SSN and other sensitive personal information.

Scammers can use SSNs to commit identity theft and file tax returns in your name to steal your refund.

How to avoid the scam


Never give personal information to unsolicited callers. If someone contacts you without your permission, refuse to tell them any personal information.
Remember, the Social Security Administration will never call to ask for an SSN. They will never ask you to pay anything, nor will they threaten your benefits.
Don’t trust caller ID. The internet has made it possible for scammers to use fake IDs when they call. If you receive a suspicious call, don’t make any important decisions based on what your caller ID says.
Contact the Social Security Administration directly at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) if you are concerned about a call you received from someone who claims to be with the SSA.

Go to BBB.org/ScamTips to learn more about other kinds of scams.

If you’ve been targeted by this scam, help others avoid it by reporting your experience at FTC.gov/Complaint and BBB.org/ScamTracker.