Today, on “National Slam the Scam Day,” we remind you of the tools to recognize Social Security-related scams and stop scammers from stealing your money and personal information. Please share this information from the U.S. Social Security Administration with your friends and family.
Four Basic Signs of a Scam
Recognizing the signs of a scam gives you the power to ignore criminals and report the scam.
Scams come in many varieties, but they all work the same way:
- Scammers pretend to be from an agency or organization you know to gain your trust.
- Scammers say there is a problem or a prize.
- Scammers pressure you to act immediately.
- Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way.
Known Tactics Scammers Use
Scammers frequently change their approach with new tactics and messages to trick people. We encourage you to stay up to date on the latest news and adviseries by following SSA OIG on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook or subscribing to receive email alerts.
These are red flags; you can trust that Social Security will never:
- Threaten you with arrest or legal action because you don’t agree to pay money immediately.
- Suspend your Social Security number.
- Claim to need personal information or payment to activate a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) or other benefit increase.
- Pressure you to take immediate action, including sharing personal information.
- Ask you to pay with gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, cryptocurrency, or by mailing cash.
- Threaten to seize your bank account.
- Offer to move your money to a “protected” bank account.
- Demand secrecy.
Be skeptical and look for red flags. If you receive a suspicious call, text message, email, letter, or message on social media, the caller or sender may not be who they say they are. Scammers have also been known to:
- Use legitimate names of Office of Inspector General or Social Security Administration employees.
- “Spoof” official government phone numbers, or even numbers for local police departments.
- Send official-looking documents by U.S. mail or attachments through email, text, or social media message.
It is illegal to reproduce federal employee credentials and federal law enforcement badges. Federal law enforcement will never send photographs of credentials or badges to demand any kind of payment, and neither will federal government employees.
How to Avoid a Scam
Protect yourself, friends, and family — If you receive a suspicious call, text, email, social media message, or letter from someone claiming to be from Social Security:
- Remain calm. If you receive a communication that causes a strong emotional response, take a deep breath. Talk to someone you trust.
- Hang up or ignore the message. Do not click on links or attachments.
- Protect your money. Scammers will insist that you pay with a gift card, prepaid debit card, cryptocurrency, wire transfer, money transfer, or by mailing cash. Scammers use these forms of payment because they are hard to trace.
- Protect your personal information. Be cautious of any contact claiming to be from a government agency or law enforcement telling you about a problem you don’t recognize, even if the caller has some of your personal information.
- Spread the word to protect your community from scammers.
- Report the scam to the Office of the Inspector General at ooig.ssa.gov/report.