Protect Yourself from Social Security Scams
One day, you pick up the phone and the voice on the other line tells you that they are calling from the Social Security Administration. They are able to tell you your name, address, and the last four digits of your Social Security number. After a pleasant introduction, they say that your social security number has been suspended and that you will need to pay a fine to have it reinstated. You’re skeptical of this threat and ask to receive the information in writing. A few hours later, you receive an email with an attachment on Social Security Administration letterhead outlining what the caller said and giving instructions to wire a payment.
If you are like a growing number of Americans, you might have encountered a similar scam. In fact, Social Security phone scams are the number one type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration has identified several warning signs of a potential scam:
- A caller saying there is a problem with your Social Security number or account.
- Any call asking you to pay a fine or debt with retail gift cards, wire transfers, pre-paid debit cards, internet currency, or by mailing cash.
- Scammers pretending they’re from Social Security or another government agency. Caller ID or documents sent by email may look official, but they are not.
The Social Security Administration emphasizes that its employees will never threaten you and that if there is an actual problem with your record, you will receive a letter in the mail. You should be skeptical of callers demanding immediate payment or secrecy; if you actually did owe money, Social Security would mail you a letter with payment options. Social Security does not suspend Social Security numbers or demand secrecy.
The Social Security Administration designated March 5th as National “Slam the Scam” Day and is encouraging Americans to spread the word about these scams. If you think you’ve been the target or victim of a scam, the Social Security Administration has set up a special website to report incidents.