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. John S.

    Good advice. There are more and more seemingly “convincing” scams online or on the phone nowadays.

    I, personally, have experienced numerous attempts via phone from “Microsoft” telling me that, because of detected hacking, I must go online and follow necessary instructions…otherwise big trouble. Clever people, clever words, but suspicious accents. When this happens I always give the caller my most sincere derogatory wishes and hang up Basta.
    Unfortunately, there are many copycat scammers so this has happened multiple times, although not concerning Social Security…yet!

    Be alert: If it sounds too good to be true …it isn’t. If it’s threatening without prior communication and proof…it’s a scam. At all times we have to be vigilant thinkers.

  2. Christine A.

    Your link to Report Social Security Phone Scams doe not work. What should I do?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Christine. 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. Susan A.

    A friend of mine came from Ireland. She is a legal resident. These scammers had her so upset for days, and being in her sixties made it worse. They told her she was going to be deported and she would loose her Social Security. Please Beware, do not believe what these people are saying.

  4. jayino

    Thanks for your good website and information !
    jayino.com/blog/

  5. Madonna H.

    Just received a call claiming my social compromised.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Madonna. 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.

  6. jerry d.

    Will notify all contacts I have.

    Thank you.

  7. Alice E.

    Does this include the ads on the television?A

  8. tony

    The phone scammers are better at catching Social Security disability fraudsters than the SSA OIG. They get the Social Security disability fraudsters to pay out money.

    Social Security disability beneficiaries are required to report when the go back to work. They try to hide their work. Then they commit fraud on the short form CDR by giving false statements that they haven’t worked.

    Under the CDR review, they will be consider to have medical improvement no matter how small the improvement. At Step 4 of the CDR review, their MI doesn’t relate to the ability to work. Then at Step 5 of the CDR review, they will be terminated for fraud.

    The proposed frequency of review will not significantly increase the number of people taken off the disability roll by adding an additional category.

    The SSA should take a zero tolerance stance to disability fraud. Making false statements is a felony committed in conjunction with the disability review process. They committed a felony for giving false statements about their disability and they are no longer credible.

    • tony

      The SSA doesn’t need the new CDR review category of Medical Improvement Likely to go after people who were approved at Step 5 of the initial claim.

      If the commit fraud during the review process by giving false statements, then they will never make it to Steps 6, 7, and 8 of the CDR review. Committing a felony should be punished. The SSA just hands out free taxpayers money to disability fraudsters.

    • tony

      If the fraudsters meet or equal the listing, then it is solely based on medical evidence. Meeting the listing at Step 2 of the CDR review process would not result in any further steps.

      The fraudsters who do not meet or equal the listing are subject to further review steps including Step 5 Exceptions

      Disability is a finding of fact. They are caught red handed giving false statements and committing a felony. They lied and are not credible witnesses to their disability.

  9. Terry H.

    Dear Sirs:
    I received a phone call from phone #443-671-5890.
    Stating fraudulent use of Social Security and an arrest warrant is issued for me.
    I am notifying your Office of this, I believe is a phony call.
    Thank you
    Terry Holst
    3024 W.11th Street
    Davenport, Iowa 52804
    Phone 563-650-8935

    • Luis A.

      Hi Terry. 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. paul b.

    Thank you very,very MUCH, regarding
    my entrancer for this information.,-
    Regards paul bouffier.,-

Comments are closed.