Consumers should be wary of a new twist to an old Social Security scam that is bilking victims out of thousands of dollars, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro warned.

Callers are telling consumers that their Social Security number has been compromised or suspended, instead of the old trick of saying it was stolen or demanding action to receive benefits, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Scam artists are also impersonating government agencies and threatening arrest if an immediate payment is not made.

One victim, identified as “D. Covert” by authorities, said he lost $10,000 in such a scam. Covert, a 61-year-old Franklin resident, got a call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration warning that Covert’s Social Security number had been compromised, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Another caller who claimed to be from a county sheriff’s office told Covert that multiple credit cards opened in his name made payments linked to terrorist groups, and threatened to throw him in jail. Covert then purchased roughly $10,000 in gift cards and read their 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,” Covert said in a statement. “I trusted the scammers because they told me that they were with the Social Security Administration and the county sheriff’s office, and I had just filed to start receiving my Social Security benefits a few days prior.”

Shapiro’s office said consumers should never give personal information over the phone and should hang up if the caller is asking for immediate payment by wiring money or purchasing gift cards. Pennsylvanians who’ve been scammed can contact the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting its website,, or by calling 1-800-441-2555.