Frauds & Scams

Inspector General Warns Public About Social Security Advisory Board-Related Scam

May 17, 2019 • By

Last Updated: May 17, 2019

The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public about a new variation of increasingly common government employee impersonation scams, this time involving the Social Security Advisory Board. The Advisory Board has reported that individuals are receiving scam phone calls displaying the board’s phone number on caller ID. The callers are reportedly attempting to obtain personal information, including Social Security numbers. If you receive this type of call, you should not engage with the caller or provide personal information or money in response to requests or threats.

These callers are employing tactics similar to impersonation schemes involving the IRS, SSA, and the SSA OIG. Inspector General Ennis advises that callers may use a variety of false scenarios or threats to obtain personal information or payments, often requested through gift cards or prepaid debit cards.

However, the Social Security Advisory Board typically does not contact the general public to request personal information over the phone. Moreover, government employees will never threaten you to obtain personal information or payments. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up.

“This caller-ID spoofing scheme has unfortunately evolved to include the Social Security Advisory Board, but it is the same type of scam, attempting to mislead people by using the trusted name of Social Security,” Inspector General Ennis said. “I encourage everyone to alert your family and friends about how common these scams are, and to be very cautious when speaking with unknown callers, even if you recognize the caller ID.”

Inspector General Ennis urges the public not to provide sensitive information over the phone or internet unless you are certain of who is receiving it. You should also never wire money or add money to a prepaid debit card to pay for any official government service.

If you receive a suspicious call, you may report that information online at https://oig.ssa.gov/report or by calling (800) 269-0271, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time. You can also report these scams to the Federal Trade Commission through a new site specific to Social Security scams:  https://identitytheft.gov/ssa.

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About the Author

Andrew Cannarsa, OIG Communications Director

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      Hi, Sheila. 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.

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