Inspector General Warns Public About New Twist To Social Security Phone Scams

The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public that telephone scammers may send faked documents by email to convince victims to comply with their demands. The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has received reports of victims who received emails with attached letters and reports that appeared to be from Social Security or Social Security OIG. The letters may use official letterhead and government “jargon” 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 United States. 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 pre-paid debit card.

Inspector General Ennis urges continued vigilance against all types of phone scams no matter what “proof” callers may offer. As we continue to increase public awareness of phone scams, criminals will come up with new ways to convince people of their legitimacy. Social Security 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 Social Security will mail you a letter. If you do need to submit payments to Social Security, 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. We encourage the public to report Social Security phone scams using our 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.

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240 thoughts on “Inspector General Warns Public About New Twist To Social Security Phone Scams

  1. Thank you for that warning. Is there anything the Federal Government can do to prevent such scams and/or hold the perpetrators accountable?

    Pieter Bottelier

  2. Red two calls today telling me or my wife’s ( didn’t state) that our social security is being suspended. I hung up no was 3155422213 and 3155425465 at 342pm and 255pm

  3. Received a recorded telephone call supposedly from the SSA. They were asking me to call back immediately and check on possible scams relating to my SS number. The name appearing on my phone is Borrello with a phone number of 716 296-9368 from a Cherry Creek, NY location.
    The call was at 11:49 AM and lasted for 43 seconds – at which time I hung up.

    • Thanks for letting us know, Janet. 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.

  4. Hello,
    I received a call which was on my voicemail, saying it was SSA, and they needed to talk to me about fraudulent
    activity In Washington DC.
    I am fairly certain this is one of the scammers, the phone number given to me was 202-932-4944.
    Please let me know if this is a scam or legit, I haven’t been in DC in over 35 years when I was a teenager.

    Thanks
    Tim Hiatt

    • Thanks for letting us know, Timothy. 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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