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. Robert C.

    My name is Robert Charles Casey and I receive SSDI benefits. I just received a call from a number 855-339-3959 stating they have received suspicious activity and that my social security number is suspended.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Robert. 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.

  2. Gloria

    I had a suspicious call from 618-227-0832. Could you please check out

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Gloria. 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.

  3. Dale

    How do I know this is not a scam?

    • Luis A.

      Hi Dale. 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.

  4. Beckie S.

    I received a letter today from SSA. I have till the 15th to prove I only worked 3 months since 2010. I have everything documented, fortunately. But, I thought the disabled had 9 months to decide if they can do the job. So much, for ticket to work. I am now 66 years old. But, my medicare has been canceled twice and reinstated each time. The form said they have no payroll entered, yet I have confirmation from SSA from when I mailed in pay stubs. Seems there should be a standard that needs to be corrected. Thanks, Beckie

    • Luis A.

      Hi Beckie. For your security, we do not have access to your personal information in this forum. For specific questions about your account, please call our toll free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), from Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. You may also contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

  5. Carol S.

    Social security is my only income. Am I still required to file income tax

    • John J.

      NO

    • Luis A.

      Hi Carol. Please note that under current law, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers Social Security benefits taxable income for beneficiaries whose countable income exceeds certain limits. To learn more about those limits, please visit our internet page titled “Benefits Planner | Income Taxes And Your Social Security Benefit.” For any income tax questions, you will need to contact the IRS. Their toll-free number is 1-800-829-1040. We hope this helps.

  6. Hugh C.

    Thanks for the information.

  7. Angela J.

    I literally just got a call from one of them the number that they used this time is (833) 245-5070.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Angela. 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. ROBERT W.

    A good part is that a lot of ‘seniors’ still don’t have ‘computers’ and so are not vulnable to emails, but others are so gullible that many will believe it came from the Government!

  9. Linda S.

    Thank you, I’ve been called several times, after the first I called SS and was informed.

  10. Robert P.

    Received one of these calls approx 2 weeks ago wanting me to send money to somewhere, asked a couple of questions and they hung up. Da..Da..

Comments are closed.