Q: I received two phone calls telling me that my Social Security card had been compromised. Please alert people to this scam.

B.B.

Answer: This is another version of a scam that has been circulating for awhile now. Sometimes the scheme involves using technology to spoof an 800 number to make it seem like a legitimate call from the Social Security Administration.

“In some cases, the caller states that SSA does not have all of the person’s personal information, such as their Social Security number (SSN), on file,” according to the SSA. “Other callers claim SSA needs additional information so the agency can increase the person’s benefit payment, or that SSA will terminate the person’s benefits if they do not confirm their information. This appears to be a widespread issue, as reports have come from citizens across the country.”

If you get a call from Social Security, they will never:

  • Claim that your Social Security number is about to be suspended if you don’t verify your SSA number, or that your number was already suspended and you’ll need to confirm it to “reactivate” it;
  • Threaten to seize your bank accounts;
  • Make demands for immediate payment, or demand that you pay a debt without the ability to appeal the amount you owe;
  • Require a specific means of payment, such as using a prepaid credit card, gift card or money transfer;
  • Threaten you for information;
  • Ask you for credit or debit card numbers over the phone;
  • Promise a Social Security benefit or increase in exchange for information; or
  • Threaten you with arrest or deportation.

If you receive a suspicious call or email from someone claiming to be from SSA, do not provide them with any information. Hang up immediately, and report it to the Office of the Inspector General at 800-269-0271 or online at oig.ssa.gov/report.

You can also contact Social Security directly at 800-772-1213 and ask to speak with someone there, rather than calling a number the possible scammer provides.

“Remember that scammers try to stay a step ahead of the curve,” according to the SSA. “You can do the same by protecting your information.”

Q: I’ve heard that this month’s full moon is called a “sturgeon moon.” Where did that name come from?

G.M.

Answer: According to FullMoonPhases.com, a website devoted to lunar topics, American Indian fishing tribes called August’s full moon the sturgeon moon “since the species was abundant during this month, especially in the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water.”

That is one of several names for a full moon in August, others being the “green corn moon” and the “grain moon.” There is no “official” list of names, and various lists from almanacs and science websites differ, with names often taken from American Indian traditions. Today is the day of this month’s full moon.

Next up, on Sept. 14, will be the Harvest Moon, when such foods as corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and wild rice are ready for gathering, followed on Oct. 13 by the Hunter’s Moon.

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Email: AskSAM@wsjournal.com

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Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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