Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is issuing a warning about a new twist on an old scam involving Social Security numbers that has already cost a Franklin, Pa. man about $10,000.

People are told their Social Security number has been compromised or suspended, rather than saying it was stolen or demanding certain action to receive benefits.

Some said the scam artists are impersonating government agencies and threatening arrest if they do not make an immediate payment.

D. Covert, 61, of Franklin, received a call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration who said his Social Security number was compromised, according to Shapiro. He was concerned because he recently filed to start receiving his Social Security benefits. A second call from a woman who claimed to be from the County Sheriff's office followed, saying multiple credit cards were opened in his name to make payments linked to terrorist groups in foreign countries. He purchased about $10,000 in gift cards and read the numbers to the scammers, the Attorney General's Office said.

“These scam artists terrified me into thinking that my information had been compromised and that I was going to jail,” said D. Covert. “I trusted the scammers because they told me that they were with the Social Security Administration and the County Sherriff’s office, and I had just filed to start receiving my Social Security benefits a few days prior. As a result, I lost $10,000."

Shapiro also issued these tips:

  • Never give out or validate personal information over the phone, especially if you did not place the call.
  • If the caller is asking for immediate payment by using services such as wiring money, purchasing gift cards or any other prepaid service, hang up. The caller is most likely a scam artist.
  • Legitimate agencies that call you will never call to ask you to verify information or demand payments. If you are unsure of the validity of the call, hang up and look up a number for the agency that called you.