WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – “Never Give Anyone Your Social Security Number over the phone.” That word of caution from Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi.

The Sheriff held a frank discussion with West Springfield Seniors on Monday about keeping their information and identity safe.

Sheriff Cocchi’s audience at the West Springfield senior center have recognized that they’ve long been the target of unscrupulous thieves who use the phone to cheat older residents out of their savings. But now they’ve taken their activities to a new level.

Sheriff Nick Cocchi told 22News, “A lot of them are coming from the Cell Phones, the E-mails, they’re talking about grandchildren, talking about pets, talking about arrest warrants. They have a tendency to focus on what’s near and dear to your heart, to the people who are receiving the call.”

You may be surprised how many would be thieves try to pass themselves off as family when they solicit money over the phone.

West Springfield resident Millie Lonergan said, “This young man wanted me to help him out. He said, he was my grandson, I asked him his name. He said, ‘Michael’, I don’t have a grandson, Michael.”

West Springfield’s Council on Aging Director Sarah Long keeps track of the most common types of over the phone attempts to cheat her seniors. All the more reason for inviting the Sheriff with his stern warning.

“We see a lot of Medicare scams, we see many people being asked for their Medicare card numbers, a lot about social security. They want to get social security numbers over the phone,” Sarah said.

And to repeat the advice from Sheriff Nick Cocchi: “Never give your social security number to anyone over the phone.”