Photo: Toni King / Toni King
Reader Alert: This week, I, Toni King received a letter from the Social Security office regarding my special needs sister’s benefits and an amazing scam alert was on the back of the envelope that her Social Security letter was in. I felt it was my duty to America and the Toni Says newspaper article readers to let you know what Social Security is saying.
Here is what is written on the back of the Social Security envelope which I received “!!!SCAM ALERT!!! Scammers are pretending to be government employees. They may threaten you and may demand immediate payment to avoid arrest or other legal actions. Do not be fooled! If you receive a suspicious call: 1. Hang up! 2. Do not give them money or personal information! 3. Report the scam at oig.ssa.gov.”
On March 27, 2020, Inspector General Gail Ennis of Social Security released a news release from the Social Security Administration warning about new Social Security benefit suspension scams that America needs to be aware of. She said: “Today, I am warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures. Social Security will not suspend or discontinue benefits because Social Security offices are closed.
“The Social Security Office of the Inspector General has received reports that Social Security beneficiaries have received letters through the U.S. mail stating their payments will be suspended or discontinued unless they call a phone number referenced in the letter. Scammers may then mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of COVID-19 office closures.
“As of Tuesday, March 17, 2020, local Social Security offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns. However, Social Security employees continue to work. Social Security will not suspend or decrease Social Security benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Any communication you receive that says Social Security will do so is a scam, whether you receive it by letter, text, email, or phone call.”
Toni Says article readers, please be aware that phone numbers referenced in these fraudulent letters are not the Social Security office and please do not call these numbers and give any personal information!
Also, in the press release it stated that Social Security will never:
1. Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee.
2. Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
3. Require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card.
4. Demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem.
5. Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.
The Inspector General’s news release also stated that 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. Social Security is asking Americans to please share this information with your friends and family to help spread awareness about Social Security scams.
Please fill out scam report of a Social Security scam by using the dedicated online form at http://oig.ssa.gov. It states on the Office of the Inspector General website that by educating yourself and learning how to identify and report various schemes, then you can stay “several steps” ahead of scam artists!
Toni King, author of the Medicare Survival Guide® is giving a $5 discount on the Medicare Survival Guide® Advanced book packages for the Toni Says® newspaper article readers at www.tonisays.com. Have a question regarding Medicare email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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