Frauds & Scams

Don’t Become the Catch of the Day

August 31, 2017 • By

Reading Time: 1 Minute

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

hook holing a tag Verifying and protecting your identity is of great importance to us at Social Security. We dedicated an entire section of our website to explaining how we process your information online and verify Social Security numbers. We include helpful tips you should be aware of on avoiding identity theft schemes and ways to make your online presence more secure! 

Did you know that when Internet fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving out your personal information, it’s called phishing? On our website, you’ll find information on how to detect a phishing scam. For example, emails from Social Security will come from a “.gov” email address. If an email address does not end in “.gov”, use caution before selecting pictures or links in the email. Also, do not respond to emails requesting you provide personal information. Social Security will never ask you to provide personal information via email. You should never respond to an email if you are not certain it came from Social Security. Do not open it or select any links contained in the email message.

Our mission is to provide you with world-class service. Part of that commitment is making sure you know who to trust and what to be cautious about when it comes to personal information and protecting your identity.

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About the Author

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Jim Borland, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


  1. Carol W.

    Why are utility companies and cable companies allowed to have our Social Security number? They are not reporting income to us, we are paying them. Can this be stopped ?

    • AKA

      They only have the #’s because you furnish it to them. A credit report is run to see if you pay your bills. You can refuse to give the # and put down a hefty deposit instead.

    • Kenny O.

      Hi Carol. You can refuse to disclose your Social Security number, but the requester can equally refuse its services if you do not give it. Businesses, banks, schools, private agencies, etc., are free to request someone’s number and use it for any purpose that does not violate a federal or state law. Sometimes they will issue a different number if you ask. We hope this information helps.

  2. Carmela

    Thank you for that information,How about don’t have SSN and what to have SSN I sign many time I can’t get,do I need to pay for apply for the first time?

    • Jenna Y.

      Hi Camela. Generally, only non-citizens authorized to work in the United States by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can get a Social Security number. If you lost your card and need to apply for a replacement Social Security card, you will need to bring proof of identity plus your current proof of work-authorized immigration status. All documents must be either originals or certified copies by the issuing agency. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. You can take your completed application and documents to your local Social Security office or your local Social Security Card Center. We hope this helps!

  3. Carmela

    How to get a SSN for the first time Application

    • AKA

      Present your document allowing you to work in this country and proof of your identity. Just signing something does not cut it, you have to present original documents, not copies.

  4. Lesly F.


  5. Lt

    When we get our new social
    Security numbers?

    • AKA

      What new numbers? You keep the number you are first given.

  6. bernice r.

    i would like to know is there a trust fund that is not associate with the social sercuirty plan,but is under another that is under a fund plan in the social security..

    • Jenna Y.

      Hi Bernice. Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system. Social Security taxes collected from today’s workers pay the benefits of today’s retirees. Any funds in excess of what is needed to pay today’s benefits are invested in special issue, U.S. Government, interest-bearing securities. This investment – the purchase of U.S. Government securities – is what constitutes the “borrowing” that people are sometimes concerned about. Any funds that have been “borrowed” from the Social Security Trust Funds have always been paid back in full, plus interest. Please check out our Trust Fund Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

    • AKA

      Your question is unintelligible.

  7. Dave

    The government created this internet mess, the obvious thing is for them to be able to fix the mess of internet fraudsters. What doesn’t the government get on this issue ???

    • glenn

      I don’t see how you get from this report that the government created any mess. Quite the opposite, they are telling everyone not to respond to emails and only get info from .gov sites. If you need to blame anyone about the problems people get into on line is the people themselves. On line, just like in life there are places you don’t go and things you don’t do.

      • AKA

        Exactly right, this is not a creation of the government. People being gullible is the problem.

  8. Richard W.

    Thanks for the information and concern

  9. David G.

    Thanks for the info!

  10. David M.

    What if they have .gov to how else would I know which one is real one

    • Marc

      Only governments can get a .gov domain. It’s a platform owned and operated by governmental agencies. Zero chance scammers can have .gov. Also look for grammar and spelling mistakes, bad punctuation, and dates that contradict each other. Finally, if you’re EVER not sure an e-mail is legit, just do not click on any links or pictures in the email. Period. You can always go to the SSA website to verify. One more really useful hint: Go to the “from” line and hover your mouse over the sender’s address. That tells you who is REALLY sending it. Example: I get phishing emails from someone scamming my internet provider every day. They say they’re Frim “” But when I hover over the sender address it always has the name of some random person at a different domain; such as “” or sometimes a strange domain I’ve never seen, like “.me” Clearly no business email from a major national corporation will come from a personal email account. Don’t worry, after you’ve seen these just a couple of times you’ll see what I mean. It will become glaringly obvious and the problems will jump right out at you. It’s really not rocket science, but if it’s too difficult to do these things, just stick to one simple rule for ALL emails: NEVER click links in emails, NEVER, no matter who it’s from. If your bank sends an email telling you to check your account GO TO THE BANK’S WEBSITE, don’t click on the link in the email to get there. I’ve never been caught in an online scan, though I get at leadtbone every single time I check email. ButbI did lose a brand new computer because my ex refused to listen to this information and always clicked on e-mail links. One was a well known scam and it got us a horrible worm virus that ate the entire operating system before he admitted to me what he’d done. By then the damage was so extensive even Dell couldn’t get the PC operational again. Ergo, I know what I’m talking about.

      • AKA

        Thanks much for your pointers, all good ones!!

      • Stan

        I do not know what kind of computer or browser/email account you’re working with, but for me, hovering over the “from” line does absolutely nothing. I have to go to “message source” for that information.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, David. Thanks for your question. We take protecting the public’s personal information very seriously. All of our online applications use an identity verification process to protect the privacy of your identity and your Social Security information. Social Security takes reports of fraud very seriously. If you suspect fraud, you may find our fraud website useful. You should also visit our website on Internet Phishing alerts. We hopes this helps.

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