December is National Identity Theft Protection and Awareness Month, and one of the most dangerous types of scams happening is related to consumers, the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Through the second quarter of 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) collected 28,944 reports of imposter scams involving Social Security, with total losses of about $12 million.1
How do you know if it’s a scam or a legitimate issue coming from the SSA? Below are some ways to identify some of the most common types of Social Security scams and our tips on how to protect yourself.
Texts, calls, and emails
It’s common to receive electronic communications of all kinds, but scammers are taking things to the next level by attempting to coerce confidential information out of people, including social security numbers, personal identifiers such as your mother’s maiden name, and banking information.
It’s likely a scam if you receive a call, text, or email that:2
- Threatens to suspend your Social Security number, even if they have part or all of your Social Security number
- Warns of arrest or legal action
- Demands or requests immediate payment
- Requires payment by gift card, prepaid debit card, internet currency, or by mailing cash
- Pressures you for personal information
- Requests secrecy
- Threatens to seize your bank account
- Promises to increase your Social Security benefit
- Tries to gain your trust by providing fake “documentation,” false “evidence,” or the name of a real government official
It’s important that you never give out money or personal information to anyone if you are uncertain of their legitimacy. Remember, the Social Security Administration will never threaten, scare, or pressure you to take immediate action.
How to Protect Yourself and Others from Social Security-Related Scams
Try to stay calm
Do not provide anyone with money or personal information when you feel pressured, threatened, or scared.
Hang up or ignore it
If you receive a suspicious call, text, or email, hang up or do not respond. Government employees will not threaten you, demand immediate payment, or try to gain your trust by sending you pictures or documents.
Report Social Security-related scams
If you receive a suspicious call, text, or email that mentions Social Security, ignore it and report it to the SSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Do not be embarrassed if you shared personal information or suffered a financial loss.
Get up-to-date information
You can get the most up-to-date information directly from the SSA OIG website and social media pages.
SSA OIG on Twitter @TheSSAOIG and Facebook @SSA Office of the Inspector General for the latest information on Social Security-related scams. Visit the Federal Trade Commission for information on other government scams.
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