The Social Security Administration and Inspector General launch an online form to report Social Security-related scams.
These scams—in which fraudulent callers mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for purported Social Security number problems—skyrocketed over the past year to become the number one type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration.
Social Security and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will use the new online form to capture data that will be analyzed and used to identify the source of the scams. Officials said the end goal is to disrupt the scammers and reduce the number of scam victims reported.
“We are taking action to raise awareness and prevent scammers from harming Americans,” Social Security Commissioner Saul said. “I am deeply troubled that our country has not been able to stop these crooks from deceiving some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
You can report any type of phone scams, including live calls, robocalls and text scams. You can also report email, mail and in-person scams.
“Awareness is our best hope to thwart the scammers,” said Inspector General Ennis. “Tell your friends and family about them and report them to us when you receive them, but most importantly, just hang up and ignore the calls.”
Social Security employees do occasionally contact people–generally those who have ongoing business with the agency–by telephone for business purposes. However, Social Security employees will never threaten a person, or promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information or money. In those cases, the call is fraudulent and people should just hang up.
Generally, the agency mainly calls people who have recently applied for a Social Security benefit, someone who is already receiving payments and requires an update to their record, or a person who has requested a phone call from the agency. If a person is not in one of these situations, they normally would not receive a call from the agency.
Social Security will not:
· Tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended.
· Contact you to demand an immediate payment.
· Ask you for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
· Require a specific means of debt repayment, like a prepaid debit card, a retail gift card, or cash.
· Demand that you pay a Social Security debt without the ability to appeal the amount you owe.
· Promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information or money.
If there is a problem with a person’s Social Security number or record, in most cases Social Security will mail a letter. If a person needs to submit payments to Social Security, the agency will send a letter with instructions and payment options. People should never provide information or payment over the phone or Internet unless they are certain of who is receiving it.
The Social Security OIG will also continue to take reports of fraud, waste, and abuse in Social Security’s programs and operations. A separate online form for those reports remains available at their website.
Author: Prasanna Haresh Patil