SOCIAL SECURITY SCAMMERS ON THE RISE

Have you been receiving suspicious messages lately? A recent surge in spam texts and calls continues a long trend of phishers impersonating Social Security officers in hopes of collecting private information from victims.

Phishers can use this information to change your Social Security account status, alter your Social Security Disability benefits, transfer large sums of money, or even file fraudulent tax returns. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make informed decisions.

TIP #1: URL CHECK

The Social Security Administration is an agency of the U.S. government; and as such, its website is ssa.gov. If you receive a text, call, or email directing you to a Social Security website that does NOT end in .gov, it’s likely fake.

TIP #2: MAIL CHECK

From the SSA website: “If there is a problem, we will mail you a letter.” In other words, unless you have ongoing business with them, don’t expect a random phone call or text and be cautious upon receiving these. Check your mail regularly—if they need to contact you, that’s where they’ll do it.

TIP #3: CONTENT CHECK

Often, the intention of phishing calls is to intimidate victims with a sense of urgency—that way they’re more likely to give up information or send money without taking the time to consider whether it might be fake. Threats of legal action and arrest are common, as are offers to increase benefits by a large sum in exchange for information or money. The SSA will never ask you for gift card numbers, bank account information, or wire transfers over the phone.

WHAT NOW?

So—you’ve identified the “SSA” call you received as a phishing scam. Whether you noticed during the call or after it was too late, you’re probably asking yourself: what happens next? There are several steps you can take.

HANG UP THE PHONE. As soon as you recognize the call as a potential scam, end it. Don’t give out any sensitive information such as your Social Security Number, bank account details, or gift card information over the phone.

IF YOU’VE ALREADY GIVEN OUT SENSITIVE DETAILS— call the Federal Trade Commission’s identity theft hotline at 1-877-438-4338. The sooner you do this, the better. With your Social Security Number, phishers can divert Social Security payments and abuse your credit.

REPORT FRAUD by visiting oig.ssa.gov or calling the Office of the Inspector General Tip Line at 1-800-269-0271. Even if you didn’t fall for the scam, please take the time to help others out!

Consider following the Social Security OIG Twitter account @TheSSAOIG for updates, Scam Alerts, and new phishing techniques to look out for.