Beware of Social Security Scams

My husband and I disconnected our home phone number recently. We both have cell phones, and it seemed like the only calls we received were sales calls and scams.

Receiving a call from someone posing as a representative of a government agency threatening legal action is scary. I remember receiving a frantic phone call from a neighbor several years ago after she received a call from someone purporting to be an IRS agent who claimed she owed back taxes, demanded that she pay immediately over the phone, and threatened that another agent was in route to arrest her if she did not comply.

She was so stunned and scared that she hung up the phone. That was the right thing to do. 

The Inspector General of Social Security recently issued a warning about scammers impersonating Social Security officials who

  • threaten arrest or legal action unless you pay a fine;
  • promise to increase your benefits if you pay a fee; or
  • demand payment with retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currently, or cash

What’s frightening is that these calls sometimes seem legitimate because scammers use spoofed phone numbers to appear on your caller ID to make it appear that the call is coming from a real government agency.

It’s important to know that the Social Security Administration will never demand payment by phone. If you owe money to Social Security, the agency will mail you a letter with payment options and also instructions on how to file an appeal. 

The Inspector General of Social Security recommends that you take the following action if you receive a suspicious call:

  • Hang up
  • Never share personal information or make any payments
  • Report the scam at OIG.SSA.GOV

You can also get information about other scams on the Federal Trade Commission website by clicking here.

To report fraud, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, or the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

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