‘Suspended’ Social Security number scam going around. Here’s how to avoid it.

Kentucky residents should beware of a scam involving alleged suspended Social Security numbers this tax season, according to Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office.

Beshear said in a news release that his office has received almost 20 complaints in recent months of Social Security scams in 15 Kentucky counties, including Fayette, Clark, Harrison, Laurel, Letcher, Spencer and Jefferson counties.

A Jefferson County resident recently received a call claiming her Social Security number had been suspended, and that she needed to provide personal information to the caller, according to Beshear.

The caller threatened to have the victim arrested if she didn’t comply.

Authorities have received reports about the scam in several other states as well.

Con artists can use the information they get through fraudulent calls to file tax returns in victims’ names. The Federal Trade Commission said more than 35,000 people reported the scam last year, with losses of more than $10 million, according to Beshear’s office.

That was up from just $210,000 in 2017.

“This tax season scammers are working overtime to steal Social Security numbers, identities and tax refunds,” Beshear said.

The reality is that the government does not suspend Social Security numbers, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Beshear said people can protect themselves by hanging up on anyone who calls and asks for a Social Security number, bank account information or a credit card number.

The Social Security Administration will not call and demand money or threaten people, and people should not trust caller ID because scammers can use technology to hide their identity, Beshear said.

People who have been victimized by tax-related identity theft can check the Internal Revenue Service site for guidance on what to do.

The Social Security fraud hotline number is 800-269-0271, and people can also file a complaint online at the Attorney General’s Office.