Frauds & Scams, General, Online Services

Don’t Stand by … Speak Up!

August 20, 2015 • By

Reading Time: 1 Minute

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

A concerned woman on the phoneAugust is National Bystander Awareness Month. As a bystander, you can play an essential role in preventing violence, wrongdoings, and fraud. Have you ever witnessed something that you knew was wrong and wondered if you should report it? Did you want to say something, but didn’t because you were afraid of negative consequences? Don’t be afraid, because there are federal laws to protect you.

Reporting information or activity that you suspect is illegal, dishonest, or false is your right. Reportable violations could be abuse of authority, gross waste of funds, a specific danger to public health or safety, or gross mismanagement.

Social Security’s programs were originally created to serve the American public, and 80 years later they still provide critical support to people of all ages. As good stewards of the tax dollars you entrust to us, we design our systems to protect the program against fraud, waste, and abuse.

But, our systems can’t catch everything. And that’s where you can help.

We need you to help us detect and deter fraud, waste, and abuse. Reporting wrongful acts can save lives and taxpayers dollars. Don’t let illegal or dishonest behavior happen on your watch. Learn what we are doing to fight fraud and how you can report fraud.

For more information about whistleblower protections, go to our OIG’s website.

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About the Author

Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


  1. Mrs. P.

    SS money belongs to the people and should be a trust account and not spent for anything other than social security. Invested with minimum risk, maybe. Borrowed not okay, especially by the government who cannot pay its own bills, much less pay back a loan.

  2. Dorothy

    Do we actually pay people in the Federal government to write this stuff?

  3. Marcia

    Why are we taxed on our SS retirement income? We were already taxed on our income when SS percent was deducted from our payroll checks. This is our SS money that was withheld from our payroll checks for our retirement. It seems we are being double taxed.

    • Greg

      Why? Because people keep voting for Democrats, that is why. They love to spend, and confiscate your earnings and control people.

      • Doris

        I beg the differ regarding the reason we pay taxes on ss because of the democrats. Go back and research the history of why we pay before during and after for SSI. Thanks

      • eliedith

        actually it was republicans that decided to tax higher income social security recipients and i am a republican and I admit this

      • Rand D.

        People keep voting for Republicans who provide billions in welfare to major corporations. If you don’t believe me, just google “major corporations that pay no taxes”. It’ll not only make you cry, it’ll make you stop voting Republican.

    • BobP

      Yes I agree too, it’s called double accounting which I learned many years ago in College Economics. The Banks do this all the time.

    • Comp.bil

      must live in Ca.!! only a few states, Democrat, strong, that do that.

  4. Vicki


    • mary a.

      So aware of this, I live in Senior housing they have ddetermined we have no need for a social worker assigned to our building. Even when assigned I had to call Aging & disability at Capitol to get her off —- on feet to come take an elders intake, it took 2 years of advocacy work to get that elder taken care of. I called for someone else it took 3 months before she showed up at my door unannounced, I invited her in then reamed her out for not doing her work, showing up unannounced, she then tried to tell me I would need a Doctors home visit, she had not heard or understood me when I told her it was not for me but another person and no the person does not need a home visit and no anyone can go and buy a lift chair when needed. Uneduacated does not speak English fluently and apparently does not understand fluently spoken English either. We need English speaking people for public servant work.

    • Marylou S.

      YOU DON”T HAVE TO BE wow so upset .. you all are going before your time.. man ..Can just one be grateful we have access to something like this when some don’t even have water? And they denied my medicine i need for a mutation of MTJFR but if i get excited i could have a breathing attack . I live on 850 a month and watch folks around me on 1200 a month and could not possibly remember them even working but yea ..God’s will .and i am sure if there are scammers they will be caught up with . Time heals all ..and Prayer .. please ..pray .

  5. Joseph R.

    I am 50 years old, worked since I was 15 and for the last 25 years with A chrinic illness. still I cannot receive disability so I work. The person I lease from for my work does not even pay property taxes let alone federal or ss or and tax so why am I working and paying taxes, I am A single father who takes responsabilty very seriously I wish more people would!

    • C W.

      Good for you for working through your pain and with pain. Pain and growing older is a part of life, one we can not change but we can keep the reason to get up in the morning and get dressed. WORK, we all need something and if we can do anything at all we should be made to do it if they can. If it is only 4 hours a day that can be done then it should be supplemented. Keep working, trust me, not working makes you more lazy. Disability is for those truly disabled not for those who just experience pain in the back, knees, etc. No wonder we are going broke.

    • Comp.bil

      You need to get you head out and find another Job. In case no one has told you, you must pay into, S.S. before you can apply for benefits also applies to Disability. Are you paying in to you own account, and are you paying self employment tax, You are responsible for that if you work as a contractor.

  6. Mr. R.

    Seeing as how our government has “borrowed” most of the SS funds for other things and we are in trouble for funds in the future and Congress keeps failing to pay back our funds, why do we not put the whole congress on Social Security. They would quickly find a way to reimburse the SS fund and pass laws to forbid this from ever happening again. No more “serve once and get retirement for life”. Our SS System would be saved.
    I served 2

    • Patricia O.

      I agree !

      • cameron

        I totally agree they have to pay them back no more dodging paying back the funds that they took out we don’t need to suffer for there doing

    • mary a.

      At their rate of pay and free medical, everything always paid in full. Congress, Represenatives, Senators, Legislators, all would have social security payments 7-10 thousand a month, so would not miss the 104.00 taken for medicare or the 20% they would have to pay. They would not need to seek subsidized housing to have shelter cause thiier homes are already paid for and so are their limo services, Oh and they retire with full insurance benefits paid in full, with cars, planes at their disposal for the rest of their little pampered lives. all at the taxpayers, you and I that worked grueling hours for our petty little SS stipend checks.

    • mac

      Mr. Rosie
      congress is so engrossed in taking care of congress that they’ll not give up the perks until we clean house.
      the ball is in our court.
      but let’s keep those with a record of doing the country’s business.

    • cora

      are we getting a raise this year. they say we are going broke but if they cut ss how we’ll they pay for ssi or Medicaid which they pay out of ss. why do we sent money oversea and can’t take care of our elders and disable.?

      • Ray F.

        Hi Cora, if you’re referring to the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) for 2016, we will know that information in late October, when the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is announced. As always, we will keep you informed.

    • Marylou S.

      No matter what anyone says ..there will always be a SSA ,I don’t care what anyone says.You only wish the stock market knew HOW the SSI does it so they can copy and never watch Dow jones go down again..Are people working? Are you able to count how many are paying into it ? much more in world to be grateful for and i know i am blessed to have SSD but it will be there even in your great great grandchildren would have to need it ..relax ..

    • Comp.bil

      You served what ? (2)

  7. Katy

    Someone else once said: The standard you walk by is the standard you accept.

    • Patricia O.

      Katy, great quote, am going to borrow it someday, thank you.

  8. Edwin J.

    There are certain people that will always take something that is intended to benefit the majority of honest and ethical people and pervert and corrupt it to gain personal profit

    • Mara M.

      What are you people talking about! How dare you judge someone who reached out for help. Did anyone think that that person cared for another & gave his best, as they waited for help to arrive, of which cost everything ,including his Fathers life. I am devastated to here all speak that way! Such a Hypocritical Shame!

      • Dannyboy

        You never know when life will throw a curve ball… I grieved with death of loved ones and at the same time I was in an explosion that gave me a spinal injury for the rest of my life. I paid my dues as a working machine for a building engineering Union which grossed 1500$ a week and took home 600$ after all deductions. I paid for many and still raised a family. I’m alone now. I’m sick.. I’m hurt … The only way to help me is what I did to help others in my journey of life. I am on government payroll and you judge me and or others? Stick it!!! Never thought I would hurt or be sick… God bless you judge mental a&@- h#%^*’s… And good luck for your not guaranteed tomorrow !!! See if you need a hand! Thank you, Uncle Sam. Trying hard to figure out my life right now. That’s how tough it is…..

        • Brisn

          You worked all your life to pay into the system what you now need paud back
          to you and its no miore reason to feel
          Bad than collecting your SS check at 65 or 67 had yoybstated heakthy! Tbis is not welfare unless you are a orivate imsurance company subsidized by the SSA who offsets your liability with SS funds. Not all insurers are vuikty of this but their sre several blatant offebders that in one swoop chew up all the updates they think are mot being viben km
          A timely manner. We fill out firms every 2 yearsx unless the illness is “not likely to improve”, and even then imany insureds still are asked to update SSA each 2 years on lur condition altbough on very non-technical terms which do not state anything more than hiw we feel vsz 2 years ago!
          If their is a need for annual
          updates or 2 years is not a brief enough window than it means ones illnesses can be cured and folks can work again. Is it implied people are cabcer free and cUking to say that? If ones deoressuon inprives but nack gets worse is this an item thats being withheld? Very poorly explained in my humble opinion!
          . Rather thsn even seem to possibly cast sdspersuns toward folks who are deaking with bery dufficykt kives in general,
          wouldn’t you exoe r that uodates woukd be dine via MDs vs. self reporting?

          The file shoukd reflect diagnosis and have needed updates reflecting likeky the most severe illness?
          . Sure, its grest to updaate info if its truly relevant to ones ability to peyaos rerlturn to work –but short of that rather obvious imissin it seems I was confused at bestby the tone and intent if ghe entry. Sorry but no point in saying it was clear to us/the rellues show not at all and then you have trolls accusing folks if fraud because you broyght up that and tgrear if oiss of benefits to grouo of folks thsr sorbd kur lives uodating insurers going to MDs etc. its ibsukting truly!

          • Brisn

            Sorry for typos- inthink jist of iilt was legubke bsreky- alas onlybteolied as that Dannyboy deserves a salute not to feel like hes om welfare! It is a govt pensuon and disability find abd you are exactly who its supposed to help- if not god help our society or so cakked society. Trols be gone! Fraud. Yeesh! Tine of privare insurers who trajn workers to assume folks are gaming system as uts so great to get 60% nevire taxes and fight tooth snd nail for every check from insureres. the SSA may need to track fraud if course but it should never be case that its so vague cmisjh Xmas card is uodate us or pay us back, jail eyc, wow! Ill offer you a polygraoh okay dude! Would thst remove bad faith extrapolations?

      • cindy u.

        im a mid 30’s female struggling with diagnosed mental disorders and also going back and forth with doctors and citizens constantly bickering with each other about my befits I receive. every single day I’m out trying to pick myself up from life”s up’s and downs. it is not anyone’s place to say I shouldn’t have it… I’m trying to pick myself up from the ground and start again. not being the first time I add… please don’t judge anyone for their age race gender if you don’t know this person genuinely or personally why do you feel you have the say so to take our benefits away when we can’t have a normal job because of physical or mental issues what ever the case may be. if you don’t understand or can comprehend what this person or persons feel or are going through then don’t try to fix it it’s beyond your understanding and you not want to have an open mind. this is judgment from people that have no place… GOD will do his job so let him work his wonders and blessings.. For instance’ say you reported someone which caused them to lose everything! Car,Home, money, so no food no clothes, possibly leading to homelessness. totally crushing their self-worth, self respect, adding more to mental disorders and if physically challenged how will they live after such a blow because you started something that should have been left alone. sit back and think if someone or people did this to you… how would you react? you knowing you had the right to have everything you got and built up on your own working hard for every part in your life! don’t worry about the next persons position if you have no clues why they have what they have. you could ruin everything some might lead to deadly reactions. don’t expresses hateful ideas or judge. I know their are countless people out in this world that cause fraud which mess everything up for those that desperately need and deserve to have these benefits let them be to apply for such things but, I would say make sure you have all the information and clues straight and in place before you blow the whistle! unless you plan to house a homeless person after the consequences of you putting them in the streets or homeless shelters… I pray for this world at night and in the day to express compassion. use your time and effort to lift people up not drag them down lend a helping hand that could turn their world around and do more for themselves they didn’t think they would ever have then see what wonders and miracles come about after kindness sets in… God Bless do what is right not out of spite!!!

        • jane

          Wow, it was as if I read my life right here. Its hard starting over with a young a teenage daughter in the only choice as housing. Broke and almost to homeless or death orchestrated and unprovable.

          • Brenb

            Maybe you and your daughter can qualify for the low income housing assistance program. I think it’s through the Medicaid program. Sadly, you have to find landlords who also are part of the program but Michigan has a good program.

        • Comp.bil

          The important thing you miss, is the fact that people who loose their benefits from SS.,are attempting to defraud the very organization, that every working individual in this country has contributed to..And from experience , the lose of benefits is a lot less punishment than, any other government agency

        • Michele

          Amen! And even when you might have witnessed or have information on what you may know for sure or be pretty certain is legitimate fraud (of any kind- say, healthcare? Greencard? Take your pick), or abuse, or misconduct, whatever. Or hey, maybe you were the victim of something like that. Maybe it was even horrific and so super wrong, to most anyone’s thinking. Maybe it caused you severe harm. Still, still, check your heart, listen for God’s wisdom, prayerfully consider your moral and civic and legal and spiritual and conscience-driven duties…and let the course of action you take be guided by God and by compassion and forgiveness, and quarintine the actions- those you are obligated to do, DO! But within parameters- what is actually necessary, not what is necessary for personal vengeance (much as you may feel like its deserved); and check your heart always to ensure your motives are right.

          PS: I think it is important that people have a chance for help via disability. Grace. Things happen. And though there will always be people who abuse and pervert and twist what is good (oldest thing in the book, really), the fact is, it isn’t everyone, or even a majority. (And they need grace too. And it’s unmerited in any case….). I also support the SSA doing reviews, and being so stringent in its first awarding benefits ,though I don’t know that it always works out “fairly”,like life. God is still on His throne, though…

      • Roxanne

        I totally agree!! I am astounded at how thoughtless and rude people have become these days!

  9. William s.

    Hello my name is William Murphy. I’m been trying to finish my taxes, I was a student enrolled in college. I have been met with a huge challenge of being homeless and recovery from you process of family misfortune of numerous deaths . I come from a hard working family. I don’t have resources for the preparation of my taxes. With the inflation of the economy. I can’t afford to pay my way to get by. I was going to use the taxes from school to get what place. I’m also trying to get certain forms into the internal Revenue service to claim the benefits of my father who was disabled and eventually died and trying to get the benefits. I have been trying to deal with this and the depression of missing the one’s I love, I could really use some help.
    Sincerely William.

    • Brian

      Are you over 18?
      Are you disabled?

    • cameron

      There r many places that will help you file your taxes for free under your circumstances hr block may help you or there is another company I known for a fact that will do it for free aarp helps me out every year and does mine. As far as your father go to the social security office and see if you qualify for his benefits

      • eliedith

        there is also the volunteer income tax assistance programme where people (i used to be a vita volunteer when i was in college and now i teach college business), will prepare your taxes for free if you are poor, disabled, or elderly

    • Ray F.

      Hi William, we are sorry to hear of the inconveniences you had to experience. For any income tax related questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040. For information on Social Security benefits, you can call our toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. Representatives are available Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. We hope this information helps.

      • Billy

        My name os Billy and i Have bien living a Night Mare i thought for sure God hates me I’m 36 years old I was born without growing hormones and had to take shots for a long time every day my mom drawed a check on me as a child I didn’t think any more about it till about 2010 I filed but was homeless cause my family want help me I’m on give meds now from all the abuse I mean like a covert thing so the social security office says the last thing they can find is from 1994 her the payee that being said i have been used by everyone around me my mail is private postal or p.o. box I only get mail they want me to get I get mail date two years ago all way back from 2010 I’m scared I’m tired inside and there names are on slog of things and they all gang up on me want talk about it or help me God help me

    • Rand D.

      TurboTax has free online filing. I’ve been using it for several years. Just google “turbotax.”

    • Dianne

      William, you look young and healthy. Unfortunately, life isn’t always fair, and we most of us know, we have had challenges, large and small to overcome. You need to persevere, work hard and maybe not look to the government to bail you out.

      • Roxanne

        I do not think he was looking for the government to bail him out… really??

        • Brenb

          Sounded like that to me also. William is attending college but doesn’t take the time to Google “free tax help”?? Yet he comes to this site to say he cannot afford to file. Maybe don’t take one class cause books cost over $100 and get the late taxes filed. Its not Rocket Science. Sorry but the SS Admin makes it too easy for disability benefits!
          Goes to college but wants others benefits! Gee my daughter worked through college as did I.

          • Brenb

            However, those who TRULY need disability benefits, I truly support. Many here have had difficult issues to deal with. However, there are some spoilers who have drug addiction and alcoholism history who easily get benefits yet those with a major disease like Chrons or Lupus or Heart issues have a hard time getting help. Why don’t SS Admin clean house and check up on those who use drug addiction as a “disability”. It’s NOT because one can choose to be sober. I have a nephew who brags about going to Power House gym 6x weekly and he gets disability at age 36. HE CAN WORK IF HE CAN LIFT WEIGHTS. SS needs to check all those ppl and then help the ones who are TRULY disabled like William who needs help.

          • Jim S.

            Hahaha Oh really they make it so easy to file disability benefits and get disability benefits that’s so simple just to get benefits is it!!! I’ve been disabled for over 5 years and I’m still fighting to get benefits I got injured on the job from a company I worked for over 10 years I worked with the company and then they fired me because I can no longer continue to do the work that I was doing. I’m going on my 2nd time of having to refile social security disability benefits and my 2nd different lawyer so tell me how easy is it to get disability benefits and I have worked since I was 14 years old and I’m 43 now tell me how easy is it to get disability benefits and I got 15 different major health issues. That is not even the top of the list of any of my health issues they’re estimating I got maybe less than 4 years to live and my white blood cell count continues to rise every three months goes up another three to four more notches on the scale of dangerously too high so hey in the next year I’m looking at a white blood cell count of 50 if anybody knows anything that means my bone marrow is being ate from the inside out so stick that in your you-know-what and smoke it. Oh oh all about you say it’s so easy to get disability benefits keep your opinions to yourself unless you know what you’re talkin about. The only people that seem to be able to get social security disability benefits or SSI so easily once they simply fill out the application and are instantly approved are felons and people that have never ever in their life held jobs and or have been in prison go ahead look it up they get approved while they’re in prison and have a check waiting for them before they’re even released from prison and now if you ask me if something screwed up about the system I paid into social security every year since I was 14 and I can’t get not one bit of benefits of any sort of assistance at all but yet a felon who’s been in prison for 15 years or even 1yr can use my taxpayer dollars to get a check waiting for them before they’re even released from prison because they don’t have adequate job skills even though they’ve been working the whole time they been in prison well go figure they’ve been doing a fine job of working in prison that seems like job skills to me I think somebody needs to have their head checked and it ain’t me cuz I get it done every few weeks just like the doctor says to go ahead look that up whoever is monitoring the site social security disability people.

    • GENA M.

      Hi William! Please feel free to email me. I went through the exact thing. Its alot of work that will test your patience , just dont give uo! Youre welcone to email me! id be happy to point you in tge rt.direction!

    • Ken S.

      I understand your pain, i have had my benifits Terminated at 60 YRS. of age. The
      SSA “system” is so messed up. I’m about to give up. I can only tell you ,GET an Attorney, If you Can. sincerely Ken

  10. M R.

    Hard to believe we actually need to be reminded and encouraged to do this. But it is. Thank you for saying it.

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