Frauds & Scams

Inspector General Warns Public about Widespread Social Security Scam Texts

March 4, 2020 • By

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

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

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

Comments

  1. Laurie C.

    Heads up. I Have received MANY calls on cell phone, calling from many different #’s. Now getting recordings on cell AND home phones.

    Got a Voice Mail (that’s new to me!) on my Cell this morning (doesn’t show anyone called in my call history!) that said they were from the SS return to work program which seems VERY plausible as I have received those in those calls/letters in the past from real SSDI reps. Or were they just letters telling me to contact them as my memory is REALLY bad right now?

    IMPORTANT: I was told by someone from spam/scam call on my home phone (was surprised she told me- she felt bad?) to NEVER call back from home OR cell as they they log both phone #’s and continue to call both back non stop from all different phone #’s, including local so you answer it! They also share your home and cell phone info. with other scammers/call centers! DON’T EVER CALL BACK. Let it go to message, if it’s someone you know they will leave a message.

    Problem as of this morning is now is they are leaving messages on cell Voice Mail – I have NO WAY to block it or label as scam/spam unless I call back as it is not showing up on call history list. It definitely wasn’t a text message. To scared to call back, but also to scared to ignore – what if it REALLY is a SSDI Rep about return to work program? Don’t want to risk losing benefits by not responding.

    They are getting WAY to good at finding work arounds to reach us on both home and cell. What do we do now? There are WAY too many calls EVERY DAY on cell and home phone daily to submit detailed fraud reports.

    When I do have a phone # I label it as SPAM so I know it is scam/spam, but they change phone #’s by the hour now (or less than an hour?)as I have received them back to back because I won’t answer – 888 #’s and more recently local phone #’s on both home and cell.

    SORRY such a long message but I don’t know what to do anymore as it’s gotten completely out of control. Especially want to share all I know so far with others so they don’t get scammed! I have been targeted big time (have received 11 so far today) or is everyone else is dealing with this?

    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, Laurie. 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. Luz S.

    Can I request a social security replacement card by fax or can I go in person?

  3. Carolyn B.

    I guess I should have read previous posts regarding txt. messages from ssa. However, I don’t recall requesting to be notified via text. What is COLA?

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