COVID-19, Frauds & Scams

Inspector General Warns About New Social Security Benefit Suspension Scam

March 27, 2020 • By

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Last Updated: February 21, 2023

Today, I am warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures. Social Security will not suspend or discontinue benefits because their offices are closed.

The Social Security Office of the Inspector General has received reports that Social Security beneficiaries have received letters through the U.S. Mail stating their payments will be suspended or discontinued unless they call a phone number referenced in the letter. Scammers may then mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of COVID-19 office closures.

As of Tuesday, March 17, 2020, local Social Security offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns. However, Social Security employees continue to work. Social Security will not suspend or decrease Social Security benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Any communication you receive that says Social Security will do so is a scam, whether you receive it by letter, text, email, or phone call.

Social Security 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 receive a letter, text, call or email that you believe to be suspicious, about an alleged problem with your Social Security number, account, or payments, hang up or do not respond. We encourage you to report Social Security scams using our dedicated online form. Please share this information with your friends and family, to help spread awareness about Social Security scams.

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About the Author

Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for Social Security

Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for Social Security


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  2. John p.

    I have been continuously receiving a phone call indicated it was from Social security and they are suspending my number for fraudulent use. I played their game and related to the so called agent that I thought that it was terrible they were committing a scam. My line actually got crossed with someone they were talking to in which they were attempting to extort money. I related to them I was a retired federal agent, which I am, and was told to F off. You must do something about these calls as people are falling for this garbage.

    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, John. 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.

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  8. Tracy f.

    I received a letter from SS saying they would no longer be depositing my benefits on the direct express cards due to fraud. I called ss and they said nothing of it. This is confusing.

    • Vonda

      Hi Tracy, thanks for using our blog. We would ask that you continue to work with your local office if you still have questions. 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.

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