Staff Report

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has recently received a large number of reports county-wide regarding several different familiar telephone scams. 

The most active scam right now is the Social Security scam, and residents have lost thousands of dollars to these con artists, a spokesman said. Recently, a resident lost $11,000.

In the Social Security scheme, the caller claims to be with the Social Security Administration and often provides a name and badge number. The caller claims that the victim’s Social Security number has been compromised and connected with some criminal activity.

In one instance, the victim was told that her Social Security number was found in a car in Texas, along with some drugs and bloodstains. The caller claims that the victim’s bank account is in danger, and that the victim must quickly go to the bank, take out the money, and put it into gift cards.

The call usually begins as a recorded phone call that states your Social Security number has been suspended and you will lose all of your benefits, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Furthermore, the caller says if you do not respond your Social Security number will be permanently blocked or your bank accounts will be seized.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • The Social Security Administration will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash or put money on gift cards.
  • You do not have to verify your Social Security number to anyone who initiates a call with you.
  • Never give any part of your Social Security number, bank account information or credit card number to anyone who contacts you.

A scammer can duplicate the real phone number of the Social Security Administration by using a special application or computer program. If you are worried the call may be a scam hang-up immediately.

“We also continue to see the scam where the caller poses as a sheriff’s deputy and tells the resident that there is a bench warrant issued for their arrest because they did not show up for jury duty,” the spokesman said. 

“If you receive any phone call where you are being asked for money or identifying information, you should immediately hang up and call the Sheriff’s Office or any other law enforcement agency where the caller claims to be calling from to verify the information.”

To report phone scams, call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or visit