Fraud

New Updates to Our Warning About Social Security Phone Scams

January 8, 2021 • By

A photo of a man using a laptop with a Scam email graphic being displayed on the monitorThe Inspector General for Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is again warning the public about widespread Social Security-related telephone scams. These scams may use sophisticated tactics to deceive them into providing sensitive information or money.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has recently received reports of telephone scammers using real Social Security and OIG officials’ names — many of which are publicly available on our websites or through an online search. Other common tactics to lend legitimacy to scams are citing “badge numbers” of law enforcement officers. Some request that people send email attachments containing personal information about an “investigation,” or text links to click on to “learn more” about a Social Security-related problem.

Inspector General Ennis wants you to know Social Security will never:

  • Suspend your Social Security number because someone else has used it in a crime.
  • Threaten you with arrest or other legal action unless you immediately pay a fine or fee.
  • Require payment by retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or mailing cash.
  • Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
  • Send official letters or reports containing your personal information via email.

“Don’t believe anyone who calls you unsolicited from a government agency and threatens you — just hang up,” Inspector General Ennis said. “They may use real names or badge numbers to sound more official, but they are not. We will keep updating you as scam tactics evolve — because public awareness is the best weapon we have against them.”

If you owe money to Social Security, we will mail you a letter with payment options and appeal rights. If you receive a letter, text, call or email that you believe to be suspicious, about an alleged problem with your Social Security number, account, or payments, hang up or do not respond.

We encourage you to report Social Security scams — or other Social Security fraud — via the OIG website. You may also read all previous Social Security OIG fraud advisories on our website.  Please share this information with your friends and family to help spread awareness about Social Security scams.


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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. Marcia D Johnson

    I received a voicemail and an email from Barbara Riley at 215-597-2707 saying that SSA needed to talk to me about my Medicare entitlement. Since I recently enrolled online for the first time, I thought it might be legitimate. However, when I called the number, I got Ms. Riley’s voicemail and it was not SSA. Do you have people call from their own cell phones?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Marcia, thanks for using our blog. Generally, we will only contact someone if they have requested a call or have ongoing business with us. Because you recently enrolled in Medicare, you should call your local office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

      Reply
  2. Holley Tankersley

    I received an automated call and have received several from 678-540-2732 telling me that my social security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity. I have reported this before and please do not fall for this scam! Its very concerning that if they have my phone number, what other private information do they have?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, Holley. 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
    • Stephanie

      I have gotten 6 of these in the last 3 months and 2 calls were last week

      Reply
  3. Hanny Stakes

    Hello, are you looking for extra income? Try easy work – paid surveys.

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    Reply
  4. Samuel Kaymen

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  5. James Martin

    I received a call today from someone claiming to represent social security claiming that my social security number had been used fraudulently in the state of Texas. The phone number that came up was 480-881-5558.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, James. 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
  6. Lavonda Linder

    I RECEIVESD A PHONE CALL FROM A MAN SAYING HE WAS DELIVERING A PLASTIC SOCIAL SECURITYCARD AND IT WAS IN THE WAREHOUSE. I JUST HUNG UP. I DID NOT SHARE ANY INFO.!

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, Lavonda. 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
  7. Sharon Repinski

    I received a phone call from Medicare telling me that there was now an additional wellness benefit. They are, supposedly, sending me a self testing kit to swab my cheek, send it back in provided envelope and it will be sent to my primary care doctor to check for cardiovascular issues. I was not asked any personal information, I asked if my husband was going to get one and I was told everyone on Medicare would be contacted. Was this a scam?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Sharon, thanks for using our blog. Please call 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY 1-877-486-2048) or visit http://www.medicare.gov. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  8. Elizabeth Jenkins

    I receive up to 3-4 calls each week about my social security number being used in Texas. I try not to answer but when you have out of state relatives you cannot always avoid answering. When I asked them not to call, I have been called “B” and just recently was told to go “F, yourself”. I have submitted the number but this seems like it’s hopeless. A person should not have to avoid answering the phone. This has become madness with no end. I wouldn’t doubt they try to answer my email!

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, Elizabeth. 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
    • Sheila M Mahoney

      Hi Elizabeth.
      My name is Sheila and I live in SC. I as well get countless number of calls a week telling me that my SS# is being suspended due to suspicious activity in some other state. You always know that it’s going to be a SCAM when you answer your phone and at first there’s dead air when no one replies. Then a recording kicks in with all the usual scam. This is the point where you should hang up and then BLOCK that number and any other time they call. You’ll get fine tuned to knowing as soon as you answer the phone whether or not it’s a scam or a family member! You should let your family members know what you are dealing with and have them to supply you with all their correct numbers so you won’t be afraid to answer your phone.
      I hope this has helped you. I deal with these scammers also and have even called them out on it before and they hang up on me, lol.
      Have a wonderful day.

      Reply
  9. Angie

    The call I got today regarding an vehicle I had owned is involved in a Texas crime (cocaine kilos/blood) found in car. I did not have to give any information, he already knew it. Today I feel frightened in my own home. How do I get off grid?

    Reply
    • Sheila M Mahoney

      Hi Angie.
      First and foremost let me be the first to say that I’m so sorry that you’re feeling unsafe, that’s what these creeps want you to feel so you will do what they want you to do.
      Now let me inform you of how they are getting some of their information, public tax records and anyone can get the information. All they do is look through the records and see what vehicle you owned that you haven’t had to pay taxes on and they go from there.
      As long as you did everything right when you got rid of your last vehicle and the DMV hasn’t come after you, then you have nothing to worry about. You don’t need to go off the grid. When these idiot’s call you, you’ll know because when you answer your phone there’s nothing but dead air before a recording kicks in and that’s when you hang up and block the number.
      I’ve been going through this for so long that I even called one man out on it and even told him that he was scamming people and I knew he was and that he was being recorded and was going to be prosecuted and he hung up so quickly.
      But I still get calls, and I just block the number.

      Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, Angie. 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
  10. Joan Lecus

    I’ve gotten a couple of calls from people stating they are agents of social security. They told me that my number was used in TX fraudulently and if I didn’t contact them there would be an arrest warrant out for me. I didn’t call back. I’ve also gotten one call from anagent stating that my card has been suspended because it has been used illegally and I would be arrested if I didn’t call him back. I hung up and didn’t call back.

    Reply

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