Can a Social Security Number be Suspended?
There’s a robocall that has been doing the rounds for several years now and I myself have received it a few times. This call starts out with the very ominous proclamation that your Social Security number has been suspended. Another version claims that fraud has been detected connected to your Social Security number.
Those who know the importance of our Social Security cards and the nine digit number written upon them will instantly start to worry. If our Social Security number has been suspended then it could affect our ability to work, request lines of credit and a whole litany of issues.
The question is though can our Social Security numbers actually be suspended? In this post we will talk about this and if these calls really are from the Social Security Administration.
Can Your Social Security Number Be Suspended?
You may have just gotten this call and either answered or listened back to it on your voicemail. You have been told your Social Security number is suspended and you must do something to fix this. Smartly you have Googled if this is possible and it has brought you this post.
Well okay, no further beating about the bush, the answer is a resounding no, your Social Security number cannot be suspended. This call is 100% a scam and they are likely trying to get you to send money or buy gift cards that you would then read out the codes to, to a scummy cyber criminal.
The Social Security Administration will never call you telling you your Social Security number has been suspended. The simple fact is that your Social Security number is yours and yours alone. It is your tax identification and one of your first forms of personal ID.
In fact there is only one way that your number may be discontinued within your lifetime. This would be if you for some reason had to change your Social Security number. In this instance the old number would be obsolete so you would no longer be able to use it.
Reasons for a Change of Social Security Number
- Severe identity theft
- Physical danger from an ex partner that requires you to remain untraceable by them
- A card number is issued to two different individuals by mistake
- Sequential card numbers issued to family members in the same household (this can cause complications)
- Religious objection to the given number, for example 666 for Christians. The first three digits of the number also known as the Area number will never use 666 for this very reason
So if you are afraid that you won't receive your Social Security benefits unless you pay these callers to unsuspend your Social Security number feel free to relax. It can not be suspended and the process to order a new number is complicated so only you can realistically initiate that change.
Your Social Security number remains active until your time on this earth is done. Even if you are a non citizen who got a Social Security number through immigration that number can not be suspended. You would still have to prove you’re still eligible to work in order to use it but otherwise that is your number.
What Should You Do if You Receive This Scam Call?
Some of these scammers have found ways to make the number they are calling from appear like something official. However the second they utter those words “suspended Social Security number” hang up the phone.
Their aim will be to either get you to call them back or keep you on the line hoping to phish important information out of you. Sometimes they will try and get you to confirm your Social Security number. Even with your banks the most they will ask for is the last four digits.
Never ever tell someone over the phone your entire Social Security number especially if they initiated the call. If they get your whole Social Security number they can wreak havoc on you financially.
So hang up on that scam call immediately and then make a call to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These are the folks who investigate phone scams like this and they receive thousands of calls a year relating to this scam alone let alone the countless others out there.
In 2019 the FTC received over 36,000 complaints regarding this type of scam. The sad truth about these scams is that there are a surprising number of people who fall for the scam. They end up paying hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars because they believe their Social Security number is suspended.
Having learned today that this is impossible I urge you to tell any seniors or vulnerable individuals in your life about this scam. Spread the word and make sure everyone knows that Social Security numbers can not be suspended and these calls are 100% a scam.
What if Your Card was Stolen?
This is a good point if you know your card was stolen perhaps it was in a wallet that was taken. Receiving this scam call makes you second guess yourself and wonder if it might be legitimate. There is a very simple answer to this, still hang up that call.
Rather than carrying on with what is 100% a scam call if you want to be sure hang up and contact the Social Security Administration yourself. The toll free number is 1-800-772-1213. In doing this you can be sure you are talking to a Social Security Administration representative and they can tell you if there really are any issues with your number.
If your card has been stolen this might also be the call you make to put a temporary freeze on your Social Security number to protect yourself from identity theft.
What Happens to Your Old Number if You Change Your Social Security Number?
As mentioned the closest thing to a suspended Social Security number is if you are eligible to change your number entirely. This is not an easy process and does require a legitimate reason to do so as mentioned earlier.
If you qualify for a change of Social Security number then your previous number will be deactivated. It can not be used to get employment, lines of credit or file income taxes. It’s not suspended, it's canceled so no one will be able to use it again.
I hope you never have to change your Social Security number because the circumstances for a replacement number can often be distressing. It can also be a logistical nightmare to get your life back on track with a new number.
Will Social Security Ever Call You?
This is a good point as there are some scams that are easier to debunk because the authority the scammers are claiming to be will never call you. The Social Security Administration however will only ever call you if you initiated the conversation.
Affiliated programs with Social Security may contact you if you're in the process of an application. The Administration itself will never call you regarding your Social Security number. If they call you, you probably are already expecting a call back from them.
Keep Your Social Security Number Secret
I know this has already been mentioned but it can not be stressed enough, never give anyone your Social Security number over the phone. This is especially true in the case of a scam call like the suspended Social Security number.
If they are calling regarding your “suspended Social Security number” but need you to tell them the number to confirm you are the owner of that card it is obviously a phishing scam. They may know some basic information about you which makes it more believable but mainly they just have a list of phone numbers and perhaps names.
Make a general rule to never share any information regarding yourself with incoming callers. Also be wary of emails that make scary claims. Before clicking anything or calling any numbers back try to contact the legitimate company via their official contact details to confirm they were contacting you.
Never call the number that called you back or any number they give you in the message. Always go online and look up the number for the bank, organization or company that claimed to have contacted you. Chances are you will be told the call was a scam and all is well.
Freezing Your Social Security Number
Those who are the victims of Social Security identity theft do have an option to temporarily or permanently freeze the Social Security number. This does not stop them being allowed to work but it does put a block on the number being used to open new accounts or gain lines of credit.
You can still apply for credit with a Frozen Social Security number but there are more hoops to jump through and you have to prove your identity more extensively.
The Social Security Administration will never call you and tell you that your card is suspended. This is because a Social Security card can not be suspended. Its life ends only in two ways: either the owner dies or they have a legitimate reason to need a new number.
You can personally freeze your Social Security number to protect you against identity theft but this is initiated by you. You can still request lines of credit while it is frozen but you will have to prove more definitively that it is your card.
Scammers have become worse over the past few years preying on people who are already struggling in tough financial times. Be alert to anything that sounds suspicious and do not share sensitive information with people who call you.
Reference SSA Locator
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" Can a Social Security Number be Suspended?". SSA Locator. Accessed on November 29, 2023. https://ssalocator.com/blog/can-a-social-security-number-be-suspended/.
" Can a Social Security Number be Suspended?". SSA Locator, https://ssalocator.com/blog/can-a-social-security-number-be-suspended/. Accessed 29 November, 2023
Can a Social Security Number be Suspended?. SSA Locator. Retrieved from https://ssalocator.com/blog/can-a-social-security-number-be-suspended/.