Cell phones

Telephone scammers posing as Social Security officials are targeting Arizona residents in a bid to extract their personal information, the state attorney general warns.

And the scammers are manipulating call display information to make it look like the bogus calls are coming from the federal agency.

The fraud attempts have several variations, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a news release .

In one version, call recipients are told their Social Security number is frozen because someone used it for illegal activity, and they are asked to pay a fee to restore it to good standing. In fact, “Social Security does not suspend or block numbers, ever,” the news release said.

In another, call recipients are told their bank accounts could be seized unless they withdraw or transfer money or gift cards to the callers.

Callers may claim they’re reaching out by phone because Social Security computers aren’t working. Or, they may say they are enrolling people in a Medicare prescription drug program.

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When in doubt, the attorney general recommends calling Social Security directly at (800) 772-1213 to verify the legitimacy of the contact.

“These con artists can be very intimidating and convincing over the phone,” Brnovich says. “Legitimate government offices will not threaten you, demand money, or ask for access to your bank accounts over the phone.”

Consumers who suspect fraud can report it to the attorney general’s office online at consumer-complaint.azag.gov or by phone at the Tucson office at 628-6648.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or calaimo@tucson.com.

On Twitter: @AZStarConsumer


Carol Ann has been with the Star since 1999, but has been an investigative reporter for more than 30 years. She's won several awards in the U.S. and Canada. In 2003, she was a war correspondent in Iraq and was a Knight-Wallace Fellow in Michigan in 2008.