Frauds & Scams, Office of the Inspector General

SSA Inspector General: New Tactics for Government Imposters

April 27, 2021 • By

Last Updated: April 27, 2021

A woman using a cellphone Last month, we partnered with our Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the annual National “Slam the Scam” Day to help you learn how to identify and avoid government imposter scams. These scams are widespread across the United States and often involve Social Security number-related issues. Scammers’ tactics continue to evolve.

Most recently, the OIG has received reports of phone scammers creating fake versions of the identification badges most Federal employees use to gain access to Federal buildings. The scammers may text or email photos of the fake badges to convince potential victims of their legitimacy. These badges use government symbols, words, and even names and photos of real people, which are available on government websites or through internet searches.

If you receive a suspicious letter, text, call or email, hang up or do not respond. You should know how to identify when a call is really coming from Social Security. We will NEVER:

  • Text or email images of an employee’s official government identification.
  • Suspend your Social Security number.
  • 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.

We only send text messages if you have opted in to receive texts from us and only in limited situations, including the following:

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

If you owe money to us, we’ll mail you a letter with payment options and appeal rights.

Inspector General, Gail S. Ennis, encourages you to report Social Security scams or fraud to the OIG’s website. You can watch the video below to learn more. Please share this information with your friends and family to help us “Slam the Scam” every day.


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About the Author

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

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

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  1. Gail Barrett

    Hello. I received a very vague letter from SSA saying that I was overpaid Social Security benefits and there was a chart of how to pay the money back. I have never ever received any payments other than my usual monthly benefit. I see there is an entry saying I had a One-Time Payment of $0.00. I have been unable to talk to anybody who can help me at SSA. They all tell me they don’t know. I need to have an explanation of when and how do they think I was overpaid a huge amount of money. I think I am being scammed by somebody at SSA. I don’t know what to think. Please help me. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Gail, thanks for using our blog. Please call your local Social Security office. 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. Renee Lopez

    Hi, what do I do if someone is using my identity & recieving funds because she’s saying she is my payee when she’s not.ive already reported it but haven’t heard back from anyone.im very frustrated & cant accomplish anything because she’s using my info.please help!

    Reply
    • Vonda

      For your security, Renee, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can call your local Social Security 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
  3. Kathleene R Pugh

    When I applied for SS, I was able to go to the Social Security office. Since the pandemic, I know that isn’t possible for now. I stipulated that any changes to my account would be in person. How can I block access to my SS number. I am on a trek to protect myself as much as possible and want to block or unblock access for me only.

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Kathleene, thanks for using our blog. You can choose to block electronic access to your Social Security record. When you do this, no one, including you, will be able to see or change your personal information on the Internet or through our automated telephone service. If you block access to your record and then change your mind in the future, you can contact Social Security and ask us to unblock it.

      If you choose to block access, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can call your local Social Security 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
  4. Marcos Lucero

    If i sent gift cards and was promised 100000.00 dollars to be paid to me in cash when i did that they said i owe 2000.00 to the irs. Is it a scam?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Thanks for checking in with us, Marcos. 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
  5. Sourabh Biswas

    Its a pretty helpful for me. Thanks for the post. regard KineMaster Diamond APK

    Reply
  6. David B.

    Are Social Security Offices back open in Raleigh, NC?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi David, thanks for using our blog. All Social Security offices are currently open only for in-person appointments for limited, critical situations. We are unable to accept walk-in visitors. If you feel you have a critical situation, please visit our Social Security and Coronavirus web page for more information.

      Reply
  7. Hospitals & Asylums

    Dear Treasury:

    Thank you for establishing email communication with the bank. Holding the rebate and now blocking regular monthly social security payment(s) is a problem that social security beneficiaries should not have to call to fix. This constitutes discrimination under Sec. 102 of the Americans with Disabilities Act under 42USC§12112(b)(4) and the Age Discrimination Act under 29USC§623(i). Unlike the General Fund, Social Security has retirement savings with which to pay for their discrimination against disability. It would seem that social security is being retaliated against for marking coronavirus relief “counterfeit” pursuant to 31USC5153. Retaliation and coercion are prohibited pursuant to Sec. 503 of the Americans with Disabilities Act under 42USC§12203.

    Although the District Court did fix what seems to be twice counterfeited counterfeit currency statute at my request, in retrospect, what historical online records indicate is its true form, is poor taste in law, because of the nonsensical, unquantified action it calls for. There is however no other way to describe the United States incompetent money supply without the government telling the truth – the US dollar must be devaluated by the Treasury an estimated 16% as of the American Rescue Act and continue to devaluate annually to pay for deficits in excess of 3% of GDP pursuant to the Marshal Lerner Condition under 19USC§4421, 22USC§5301, 2020 Revised estimates: effect of changes in rates of exchange and inflation Report of the Secretary-General A/74/585 of 11 Dec. 2019.

    To get devaluation on the agenda of the overweight Treasury Secretary, it is proposed to impose a $5,000 civil fine against the Federal Reserve for falsely claiming to have “bought” $3.3 trillion in coronavirus relief under 31USC3802 and 15USC13a. The Federal Reserve did not think to continue to falsely claim to “buy” deficits in excess of 3% of GDP leading to the continuing liquidity crisis the bank is discriminating against solvent retirement and disability beneficiaries about. The Federal Reserve hasn’t recovered their sanity since they destroyed their accounting book to finance the self-perpetuating Great Recession bailout in 2009. The key word is devaluation.

    Held: the US dollar must be devaluated by the Treasury an estimated 16% as of the American Rescue Act and continue to devaluate annually to pay for deficits in excess of 3% of GDP pursuant to the Marshal Lerner Condition under 19USC§4421, 22USC§5301, 2020 Revised estimates: effect of changes in rates of exchange and inflation Report of the Secretary-General A/74/585 of 11 Dec. 2019 pursuant to the Hydrocortisone, eucalyptus, lavender or peppermint Act of 2021 http://www.title24uscode.org/help21.pdf

    Respectfully Submitted,

    Anthony J. Sanders
    Applicant Public Trustee

    ,

    Reply
  8. joseph

    Is it legal to apply for SS benefits lets say in Ohio, and Baltimore?

    Reply
    • Vonda

      Hi Joseph, thanks for using our blog. Social Security is a federal program, benefits are not state-specific. You qualify for Social Security benefits by earning Social Security credits when you work in a job and pay Social Security taxes. We base Social Security credits on the amount of your earnings. We use your earnings and work history to determine your eligibility for retirement or disability benefits or your family’s eligibility for survivors benefits when you die. For more information, check out our publication How You Earn Credits.

      Reply
  9. joseph

    If I live in California, Is it legal to apply for SS in another state?

    Reply
  10. Lisa M

    Because of COVID-19, all disability hearings are being held by telephone or video- if you have requested a hearing after being denied or having your benefits ceased, someone from SSA may be calling you before the hearing- it won’t show up as SSA on a cellphone caller ID- you can ask for SSA phone # and call the person back to verify it actually someone from SSA – but call them back!! It is to make sure all info is updated for your hearing and that you agree to phone/video hearing, understand your rights and responsibilities before the hearing.

    Reply

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