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Social Security Scams: 3 Common Requests and How to Report Them

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By 2021, an average of 65 million Americans will receive monthly Social Security checks, totaling more than $1 trillion paid during the year. It’s no surprise that scammers will try almost anything — from fake calls, text messages, emails, and letters — to get the personal information of Social Security beneficiaries. Last year, there were more than 718,000 reports of Social Security scams, contributing to nearly $45 million in losses, CNBC reported.

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Here are some of the most commonly reported scams, as well as how to report them yourself.

Phone calls

More and more fraudsters are calling Social Security beneficiaries posing as government employees and claiming that there is identity theft or a problem with someone’s Social Security number, account or benefits. These calls are often threatening and may require payment or arrest or legal action.

However, fake calls can also sound friendly and offer to provide services. This may include offers to enroll a family member in the Social Security program or provide a statement of contributions and expected future income. These are attempts to extract as much information from you as possible.

If there is a problem, the Social Security Administration will usually send you a letter and only call you if you have requested a call. According to the SSA, “Social Security will not threaten you, force you to provide personal information or demand immediate payment. Social Security does not accept payments by gift card, prepaid debit card, internet currency or cash by mail. Criminals use these payment methods because they are difficult to trace.”

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Phishing Emails

Another method is to send emails that appear to be from the SSA. Phishing is an attempt to trick you into revealing your personal information. Scammers can try to steal passwords, account numbers or your Social Security number. With this information, they can access your email, bank or other accounts.

These emails may have the agency seal and a similar font style and may contain demands or threats. Legitimate emails from the SSA will never ask for personal information and will never threaten you.

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Fraud by mail

Although most scams take place online, criminals can still try direct mail scams. These are usually sent to older people. Letters can offer an additional Social Security check in exchange for personal information and filing fees, according to Investopedia. The SSA will never ask for your personal information and will never ask for money.

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How to Report Social Security Scams

If you suspect you have been the victim of a Social Security scam or would like to report attempts to do so, you can call the Inspector General’s Office hotline (1-800-269-0271) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday. with Friday, excluding federal holidays. You can also file a fraud report through the OIG website. In addition, it is also an option to file a complaint through the Federal Trade Commission website.

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Last updated: October 26, 2021

About the author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but now lives in Ohio, where she attended Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.