Fraud

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

January 9, 2020 • By

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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About the Author

Tracy Lynge, Communications Director for the Office of the Inspector General

Tracy Lynge, Communications Director for the Office of the Inspector General

About Tracy Lynge, Communications Director for the Office of the Inspector General

Comments

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  1. Francina Ivory

    New scam. “This is Social Security alerting you to let you know there is illegal activity on your social security account press 4 to our investigation unit for further information” clever huh? Lol

    Reply
  2. Bernadette Henderson

    This is Social Security alerting you to let you know there is illegal activity on your social account. various numbers
    314-805-4153, 314-805-3678

    Reply
  3. Mike

    Receiving calls “This is Social Security alerting you to let you know there is illegal activity on your social security account” They ask my name and I tell them they should know my name because they called me. They get frustrated and hang up. 740-935-xxxx numbers.

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Thanks for letting us know, Mike. 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.

      Reply
  4. Steven Miller

    Today, for the second time in two weeks, my wife received a phone call from a party supposedly located in Texas, telling her that she was about to be arrested for misuse of her Social Security number. No matter how many times I tell her that this is a scam, she fears for her freedom.

    Note that she suffers from several forms of mental illness, including schizophrenia.

    Could someone send Penny an email to my address, below, to re-assure her that she is in no danger? I would be very grateful.

    Thank You

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Thanks for letting us know, Steven. 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.

      Reply
  5. William Louis-Brux

    I just received an apparent scam call from someone claiming to be with the SSA. They said my social security number had been “Suspended due to suspicious activity” when I pressed them for more information, they hung up on me.

    The phone number the call originated from is: 920-441-6500

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Thanks for letting us know, William. 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.

      Reply
  6. Esther Gonzales

    I need to change the misspelling of my last name I never sign my papers or basically my rest of ongoing life I have always used Esther Gonzales and not Esther Gonzalez which is also on my social security card however I really didn’t think that it really mattered because also on my drivers license I have it with es not ez but then when receiving a letter from social security office and Edd stateing if I am really who I say I am or am I using someone else’s ss# which I I am not then they brought to my attention that I cannot do that I need to sighn what is on my social security card. But that’s not how I spell it I spell it with es so know I need to show proof of my identity so they don’t think I am committing fraud which ch I had no idea that’s how serious it can be so now I am seeing what or how do I go about to correct the last name to the way I have all my documents that I sign or received with the ending es. Esther Gonzales not Gonzalez.

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Esther thank you for using our blog. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page on how to correct your name. If you do not want to mail in your documents, which will be returned, you may need to wait for the offices to reopen. Use our Social Security Office Locator to find your local office address. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  7. Kenneth Fulmore

    Wife got the ‘disability advisor’ calls repeatedly. Twice from spoofed numbers in our are code, once from Texas (915) 257-3655 (which isn’t even an active number!).
    Party could barely speak intelligibly in English.

    Reply

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