Fraud, Office of the Inspector General

Inspector General Warns Public about Widespread Social Security Scam Texts

March 4, 2020 • By

The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning of a new tactic by government imposters to reach — and victimize — Americans by phone. We have received reports of text messages on cell phones that appear to come from Social Security. The texts warn about a Social Security number problem. They ask the recipient to call a number back to resolve the problem and avoid legal action.

This trick appears to be the latest development in continuing widespread scams meant to deceive Americans into providing money and personal information to scammers. Social Security will never send a text asking for a return call to an unknown number. Social Security will only send text messages if you have opted in to receive texts from the agency and only in limited situations, including the following:

  • When you have requested or subscribed to receive updates and notifications from Social Security by text.
  • As part of Social Security’s enhanced security when accessing your personal my Social Security account.

Our office wants you to know 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, wire transfer, internet currency, or by mailing cash.
  • Send official letters or reports containing your personal information via email.

If you owe money to Social Security, the agency will mail you a letter with payment options and appeal rights. You should never pay a government fee or fine using retail gift cards, cash, internet currency, wire transfers, or pre-paid debit cards.

Inspector General Ennis has designated this Thursday, March 5, 2020, as National “Slam the Scam” Day to educate every American about these sinister scams. You can learn more at https://oig.ssa.gov/scam. Join Inspector General Ennis and Monica Vaca, Associate Director, Consumer Response and Operations at the Federal Trade Commission, for a special joint Facebook Live. It’s called “Slam the Scam:  That call is not from Social Security,” and starts at 7:00 p.m. ET. Join us and stay ahead of the scammers by hearing directly from the experts.

Inspector General Ennis urges the public to be very cautious when receiving unsolicited calls from any purported government agency, and to discuss any major financial decision only with trusted family members or friends.

If you receive a call, text, or email that you believe to be suspicious about a problem with your Social Security number or account, do not respond or engage with the caller or sender. Report these Social Security scams through our dedicated online form at https://oig.ssa.gov. Please share scam awareness information with friends and family to help them avoid becoming victims.


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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. Brenda

    The link you gave to the inspector general doesn’t work.

    Reply
  2. Fran

    Have received two phone calls today from local nos. re compromise of my s.s. # Did not return either call. My husband received also received soc. sec. call re compromise of his s.s. #. Likewise the link to OIG doesn’t work.

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Thanks for letting us know, Fran. 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
  3. Ethel S Sarwah

    Hi I try to report a scam on the Webb site of the inspector general site and it kick me out with and error. How can I report my issues?

    Reply
    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Thanks for letting us know, Ethel. 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. Rene Miller

    You have a new message at mySocialSecurity in the Message Center. Log in at https://secure.ssa.gov/RIL to read it.

    Is this a Scam?

    Reply
    • Kathleen Oglesby

      I just got that same text today and I am very hesitant and have not opened or put any information.

      Reply
  5. Barbara Davis

    Received this today 11/27/2020 via text. Is this a scam?

    “You have a new message at mySocialSecurity in the message Center. Log in at https://secure.ssa.gov/RIL”

    Reply

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