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

  1. Joscelyn. N. Sunnie called and said my San has flagged for money fraud and drug trafficker. I wasn’t thinking straight when I gave out some personal information. I didn’t not give any but they keep calling because my bank verified it was a scam. In turn I closed my bank account and opened a new one. So need to change my account number for my deposit of my check.

  2. I keep getting voice mails stating i have 24 hrs to contact the office to resolve a fraud issue with my ss cks. I know this is a scam. So I called. Not the 1st time I have called many different numbers. The only thing that’s the same is the voice on the other end. It’s a Indian with BAD English. this time when I called he wanted my SS# I told him no way was I giving him that info and he should be the ashamed of himself for prying on the elderly. He hung up.

    • Hi Charlotte. If the caller is claiming to be from Social Security—it is critical that you pay attention to the tone and content of the message from the caller. In some cases, the caller states that Social Security does not have all of your personal information, such as your Social Security number (SSN), on file. Other callers claim Social Security needs additional information so the agency can increase your benefit payment, or they threaten that Social Security will terminate your benefits if they do not confirm your information. This appears to be a widespread issue, as reports have come from people across the country. These calls are not from Social Security.

      If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from Social Security, we urge you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your SSN or bank account information. Never reveal personal data to a stranger who calls you, and never send the stranger money via wire transfer or gift cards.

      Social Security employees will never threaten you for information; they will not state that you face potential arrest or other legal action if you fail to provide information or pay a fee. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up. If you receive these calls, report the information to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online at oig.ssa.gov/report.

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