Frauds & Scams

3 Ways to Fight Scammers Who Target Your Social Security Benefits

March 4, 2021 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: July 19, 2021

woman on couch making a phone callScammers are always finding new ways to steal your money and personal information by exploiting your fears. The most effective way to defeat scammers is to know how to identify scams and to ignore suspicious calls and emails.

One common tactic scammers use is posing as federal agents and other law enforcement. They may claim your Social Security number is linked to a crime. They may even threaten to arrest you if you do not comply with their instructions. Here are three things you can do:

  • Hang up right away or do not reply to the email.
  • Never give personal information, money, or retail gift cards.
  • Report the scam immediately to our law enforcement team at the Office of the Inspector General.

You should continue to remain vigilant of phone calls when someone says there’s a problem with your Social Security number or your benefits. If you owe us money, we will mail you a letter explaining your rights, payment options, and information about appealing.

Related: Inspector General Announces 2nd National “Slam the Scam” Day

There are a few ways you can identify a scam call or email. Remember that we will never:

  • Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you 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.
  • Demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem.
  • Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.

If you do not have ongoing business with us, it is unlikely we will contact you. Again, if you get a suspicious call claiming to be from Social Security, you should hang up and report it right away to our Office of the Inspector General. Please share this important information with your friends and family—and join us for “Slam the Scam” Day on Thursday, March 4.

Here’s a list of our “Slam the Scam” Day events:

  • 1:00 pm – Spanish language Twitter chat. Use hashtags #OjoConLasEstafas and #NCPW2021 to follow and participate.
  • 3:00 pm – English language Twitter chat. Use hashtags #SlamTheScamChat and #NCPW2021.
  • 7:00 pm – Facebook Live on government imposter phone scams featuring Tracy Lynge, the Communications Director at our Office of the Inspector General, and Drew Johnson, the Chief of Staff at the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Consumer and Business Education. Be sure to ask your scam-related questions in the blog comments below—and we will answer them.

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About the Author

Darlynda Bogle, Assistant Deputy Commissioner

Darlynda Bogle, Assistant Deputy Commissioner


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  5. Mary H.

    I resently applied to receive benefits as I turned 70 and I had been receiveing benefits through my husband. My question is I received a letter to contact Social Security but it was located in Washington and I live in Michigan. When I called they said it was because of Covid that my account was at the Washington location. I was asked several questions to varify myself, and then they asked my soical security number. I was told how much my monthly amount would now be and I would receive a lump sum amunt because I turned 70 last year. I was then asked to mail a copy of the front and back of my dirivers license. I have felt very uneasy about this because I was thinking I just gave all my info to social security but they should have had all that info. How can I verify that it wasn’t a scam? The letter looks like a letter I should have gotten from social security to call the office to answer question. But then again there was no letter head but everything else looked similar to previous letters.

    • Vonda

      Hi Mary, thanks for checking in with us. Generally, we will only contact someone if they have requested a call or have ongoing business with us. Because you recently filed for benefits, that letter could be from Social Security. To inquire on the validity, you would need to call your local office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  6. Ann L.

    I was just notified they they we issuing an arrest warrant if I didn’t call them right away!

    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, Ann. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us. Recently, scams—misleading victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for Social Security number problems—have skyrocketed. Our employees will never threaten you for information or promise a benefit in exchange for personal information or money.

      If you receive a suspicious call like this: 1) Hang up. 2) Do not provide personal information, money, or retail gift cards. 3) Report suspicious calls here. For more information on how to protect yourself, check out our Frequently Asked Questions. We hope this helps.

  7. John L.

    We have to watch our Politicians and SS because they give the money we invested to questionable folks. President Clinton said “This is the end of Welfare as we know it” before he placed a lot of people as disable on the SS roles. Why do you think the Politicians kept themselves off the SS Program.

  8. Thomas D.

    The common thread with all of these scams is that they threaten you with ‘dire outcomes’ if you do not reply ‘immediately’ or within ’24 hours’… no reputable business or organization uses these tactics. They might also send an email with a social security logo or other well known business logo like Amazon, Pay pal, GAP, etc. etc. Simply ignore.

    • Patricia P.

      I agree. These scammers have gotten very creative and it requires the SSA to continue to alert seniors of these new tricks. If you want to hear actual recordings of these fraudulent social security scam calls, there is a good list hear – I was surprised by how threatening some of these calls were.

  9. William f.

    I have been isolated for the past 9 years because of a bad marriage after my wife died, my second wife was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and was friends with what seemed like all the druggies in the high desert and they were all involved with making my life a living hell, I couldn’t learn to use a computer because it was hacked and taken over by them, the police wouldn’t do anything because the order of protection was in her name and she always had her friends do her dirty work and I lost my license because of threats of getting me in the courthouse parking lot, I couldn’t get a decent job because of my health and I applied for disability benefits but was turned down by the quack that I was sent to, all he did was take my vitals and turned me down so I’ve been living on my savings and I’ve been trying to get a my social security for the last year but my generation was never taught to use a computer or even a calculator, it was considered cheating, I haven’t received any stimulus checks, I turned 66 in February and I hope that this time I luck out and fill this out right it’s horrible to have to stay lockdown 9 years just to stay safe.

    • Vonda

      Hi William, thanks for using our blog. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), not Social Security, issues the Economic Income Payments. Social Security cannot answer EIP questions about your specific situation. Check out our Social Security and Coronavirus web page for more details. We hope this helps.

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