The Social Security Administration and the Office of the Inspector General have partnered to raise public awareness about Social Security imposter scams as part of their third annual Slam the Scam Day on Thursday.
Officials warn that there are a number of scams where fraudsters attempt to mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments to fix purported Social Security number problems or to avoid arrest.
For several years, Social Security impersonation scams have been one of the most common government imposter scams reported to the Federal Trade Commission. While the Social Security Administration has made concerted efforts to address this issue, and related reports of such scam to the OIG has decreased by more than 20% since 2020, millions of Americans are still at risk from such fraudulent activity.
“I am proud of the work we have done to combat Social Security imposter scams, yet I remain deeply concerned that fraudsters continue trying to deceive people into providing personal information or money,” said Acting Social Security Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi. “Above all, I urge people to remain alert, hang up if a scammer calls, and ignore their attempts if you receive a suspicious email, text, or letter.”
Criminals are sophisticated and there are many variations of this fraud scheme, officials said. For example, scammers may call or email saying they are from Social Security and that the person’s Social Security number is suspended or was used in a crime. The caller identification may be spoofed to appear as a legitimate government number, and they may text or email fake documents in attempts to coerce people to comply with their demands.
Another common tactic is citing “badge numbers.” In the latest development involving Social Security-related scams, criminals are using fraudulent Social Security letterhead to target individuals for money or personal information.
Social Security will never tell you that your Social Security number is suspended, contact you to demand an immediate payment, threaten you with arrest, ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone, ask for gift cards or cash, or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information or money, officials said.
“As we continue working with our law enforcement partners and partners from the private sector to combat these sinister schemes, I urge consumers to simply hang up the phone, or delete suspicious texts and emails, without responding to the scammers,” Social Security Inspector General Gail Ennis said. “That is the easiest and most effective way to avoid falling prey to these vicious scams.”
Social Security employees do occasionally contact the public by telephone for business purposes, the officials said, but ordinarily these calls are to people who have recently applied for a Social Security benefit, someone who is already receiving payments and requires an update to their record, or a person who has requested a phone call from the agency. If there is a problem with a person’s Social Security number or record, Social Security will typically mail a letter.
To report a scam attempt, go to oig.ssa.gov. For information, go online to www.socialsecurity.gov/scam or www.socialsecurity.gov/antifraudfacts/.