In connection with the Social Security Administration’s March 4 National “Slam the Scam” Day, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas reminds the public to be vigilant of Social Security scam calls.
“For the past year, we have seen a steady increase in Social Security-related scam calls,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “The financial exploitation of older Americans will not be tolerated. We are partnering with the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General to spread the word about these scams. We encourage anyone who receives such calls to hang up.”
“We are working with the Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies across the United States to combat Social Security imposter scams—but our best weapon in this fight will always be awareness,” said Inspector General Gail S. Ennis. “I want to thank the many agencies and organizations that have joined us in our effort this year to alert Americans to hang up on suspicious calls, and talk to their family and friends about phone scams.”
Last year, the (SSA-OIG) received over 700,000 reports of Social Security-related telephone scams—with a total of nearly $45 million lost. Victims reported an average loss of $5,800. The scams involve an imposter calling from what appears to be a local or government phone number.
Scammers often use robocalls, but they may also have a live person call. They may also follow up with emails or texts to try to convince you they are a government official, and they are investigating you.
These scammers will state that the individual’s Social Security Number has been compromised or has already been suspended for fraudulent activity. The caller may even threaten to suspend the account or have the person arrested if they do not take immediate action.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and SSA-OIG offer the following information about how to spot these scams. SSA may call you in some situations, but will NEVER call you and:
- Tell you that your Social Security Number has been suspended or offer to increase your benefits or resolve an identity theft issue for a fee.
- Threaten you with arrest or legal action if you do not immediately pay a debt, fine, or fee.
- Request immediate payment or even accept payment via gift cards, pre-paid debit cards, cash, wire transfers, or internet currency, such as Bitcoin.
- Demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem, or tell you to make up a story to tell your friends, family, or store and bank employees.
- If you owe money to Social Security, the agency will generally mail you a letter with payment options and appeal rights.
- SSA will not send you an email with an attachment containing your personal information.
- SSA will only send you emails or text messages when you have subscribed with SSA to receive updates, or as part of SSA’s enhanced security when accessing your personal my Social Security account.
If you receive such a call, hang up immediately. Do not give anyone your personal information such as your Social Security Number, bank account, or credit card numbers. If you receive a voice mail, do not return the call. Report any scams to OIG.SSA.GOV.