Frauds & Scams

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

January 9, 2020 • By

Last Updated: January 9, 2020

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

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

Comments

  1. Diane Bradshaw Ashworth

    I received a scam email letter a few days ago. If you are even a little diligent, they are very easy to spot. The wording looks like a third grader composed it and it gets worse toward the end of the spoof. I think it’s kind of funny that someone who can hack into your email is stupid enough to use words like “dear”! Just read a few lines and DON’T automatically assume it’s a legitimate letter. Pay attention to the details.

  2. Carmen

    They have also resolved to sending text messages to cell phones attaching a link to reply to for further information. DON’T open the link. Report and Block these numbers. Unfortunately, even after blocking scam numbers they still may access your voicemail and leave fraudulent messages.

  3. Vick Munn

    Yes, I have received phone calls of this nature many times!
    How dare they! I sure hope they get caught & punished severely!

    Thank you for posting this notice!

  4. Tami

    I did get a call yesterday. I did hang up. Weird number came through on my phone

  5. Buffie Chubbuck

    I had a call just the other day! Had to fill out a report. If it had not of been for my roommate, I probably would have give information! I just don’t think about it because I am not that type of person. I would never do someone that way, therefore i do not think about others doing that way. It is really sad to think how far people go to cheat someone else out of money instead of getting it by working for it, like the world owes them or something!!

    • Maureen Albrecht

      I just received the robo call with a weird female voice saying this was the Social Security office. It was 7am, Feb. 4, 2020. The call was an 888 area code. I blocked the number. So very annoying, I thought something was going to be done about the fake SS calls and those Chinese language calls, I block them all..

  6. carmella vineyard

    this is so sad because there are people that actually believe these horrible people. they are so afraid of losing their benefits or going to jail. they are desperate. people or seniors please do not fall for these criminals who just want to dupe you out of your money. call social security directly and NOT by pushing the #1 button on the phone. they will tell you its a scam.

  7. Dalyce A Kingston

    I got two calls yesterday, within a couple of hours of each other, threatening my arrest for fraudulent activity on my Social Security number. I listened to the entire call, out of curiosity, only to have the ending of the pre-recorded call tell me to press 1 to speak to someone that would take care of my issue. I simply hung up and blocked the call. But we all know that blocking a number does not stop them. They simply ghost another number!

    • Lisa

      I’m getting same call on my recorded message

    • Ann C., Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi, Dalyce. Thanks for letting us know. 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.

  8. Vince Arnone

    Thank you for the information. Is there such a thing as a “do over”? I have received various emails and sent to sites claiming that a “do over” exists.

  9. Willard (Butch) Lester

    O.K. and how then do I know that this is its scam? It fills the criteria!

    • Carmen

      When in doubt check it out by going to your My Social Security Account to review any messages sent to you and/or contact Social Security directly before opening, replying or opening any unsolicited messages.

      • M. Fayman

        The moment someone threatens you with arrest, requires a payment or for you to enter your personal ID and Password to your account, you should seriously suspect fraud and not give the information or payment requested. Don’t click on any link they provide. If you want to check, go to your own saved links or official website. Better be suspicious than become a victim

    • Ann C., Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi, Willard. Thanks for checking in with us. 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.

      • Linda McDonald

        I just received a very threatful phone call stating social security would send a warrant for my arrest, told them this is a scam and blocked the number!

        • Megan Harlan

          I received same robocall today exactly as you said.

        • Virginia Hoffman

          I received a call today about fraudulent activity on my social.security number from the social security office. I told them.this was a fraudulent call. Blocked the number they just call on another number.

          • Ann C., Public Affairs Specialist

            Hi, Virginia. Thanks for letting us know. 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.

  10. Gustavo A. Rodriguez

    Gracias, VIVA LA BURROCRACIA.

    HURRAY FOR THE AMERICAN QUASI DEMOCRACY

    • MAGA and leave

      If you don’t like this country Mr. Rodriguez, kindly get on your burro and return to your country of origin, where I am sure, things are so much better.

      • Cinthia Guzmán

        Wow that wasn’t very nice.. Since when are we all American Indians.. Please be mindful that we are ALL immigrants including yourself!!!

    • stavo guzman

      gustavo adolfo guzman pimentel here did you steal my identity??? what social did you use???Im the first1st 32yrs old

Comments are closed.