It used to be that caller ID was a helpful tool to determine whether the person on the other end of the line was someone you knew. If the caller ID came up as unknown, you could decide not to answer the phone. Sometimes a call might come in and you don’t recognize the actual number, but it has a similar area code or number to your cell phone number or the area where you live, so you might be tempted to answer the call. nine times out of 10 these days, the caller is a telemarketer or scam artist, despite the fact that you are on the Do Not Call List.

Recently, I implemented a process in my home that we do not answer any telephone calls made to our home telephone number unless it is someone we actually know. Who calls a residential line anyway? If someone actually wants to talk to us, they will call our cell phones. So when we get calls at home, we always look at the number. These days, many of the calls are coming from an area code purportedly from Washington, D.C., that is, from a governmental agency, such as the Social Security Administration (SSA) for instance.

I have noticed an increase in calls from D.C. or 800 numbers that look like they are from the IRS or the SSA. The first clue is that these agencies are not going to call you on the weekend. The second clue is that these agencies are not going to ask you for personal information, payment information, or any other information over the telephone.

The Federal Trade Commission issued a spam alert stating that scammers recently have been spoofing the SSA’s 1-800 number in order to dupe consumers into believing they are being called from the SSA and asked for information. The number the scammers are spoofing is 1-800-772-1213. The caller says that they are calling to increase your benefits, but need your Social Security number in order to complete the benefit increase.

According to the FTC, if you get a call from this number, hang up and call the actual number back. The Social Security Administration will never threaten you over the phone (e.g., “if you don’t give me your Social Security number, we will cut off your benefits”). If you receive a spoofed call, report it to the Social Security Administration (or any other spoofed federal agency) by calling the Office of Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or the FTC. But by all means, never give your personal information to anyone over the telephone.