You can help stop scams targeting Social Security

How to recognize a scam and report it



The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Inspector General (IG), Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public that telephone scammers may send faked documents by email to convince victims to comply with their demands. With SSA’s help, you can learn to spot and report these scams.

SSA reports that victims receive emails that appear to be from SSA or the Social Security Office of Inspector General. The letters may use official letterhead and government terms to convince victims they are legitimate; they may also contain misspellings and grammar mistakes.

This is the latest variation on Social Security phone scams, which continue to be widespread throughout the country. Using robocalls or live callers, fraudsters pretend to be government employees and claim there is identity theft or another problem with one’s Social Security number, account or benefits. They may threaten arrest or other legal action, or may offer to increase benefits, protect assets, or resolve identity theft. They often demand payment via retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency such as Bitcoin or a pre-paid debit card.

Inspector General Ennis urges continued vigilance against all types of phone scams no matter what “proof” callers may offer.

The Social Security Administration will never:
  • Threaten you with arrest or other legal action unless you immediately pay a fine or fee;
  • Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment;
  • Require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card; or
  • Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.

If there is ever a problem with your Social Security number or record, in most cases SSA will mail you a letter.

If you do need to submit payments to SSA, the agency will send a letter with instructions and payment options. You should never pay a government fee or fine using retail gift cards, cash, internet currency, wire transfers, or pre-paid debit cards. The scammers ask for payment this way because it is very difficult to trace and recover.

If you receive a call or email that you believe to be suspicious, about a problem with your Social Security number or account, hang up or do not respond.

Veterans and their families are encouraged to report social security phone scams using this dedicated online form, at https://oig.ssa.gov.

Please share this information with your friends and family, to help spread awareness about phone scams. For more information, please visit https://oig.ssa.gov/scam.

Author

Beth Lamb

Beth Lamb has been a member of VA’s Veterans Experience Office since January 2017. She previously held Public Affairs positions for several Veterans Health Administration facilities and currently lives in Missouri with her family.

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