The Social Security Administration has launch of a dedicated online form to receive reports from the public of 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 No. 1 type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration, according to a news release.
To combat these scams, Social Security and the OIG will use the new online form at oig.ssa.gov to capture data that will be analyzed for trends and commonalities. The OIG will use the data to identify investigative leads, which could help identify criminal entities or individuals participating in or facilitating the scams.
These efforts are expected to disrupt the scammers, help reduce this type of fraud and reduce the number of victims.
“We are taking action to raise awareness and prevent scammers from harming Americans,” Commissioner of Social Security Andrew 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.”
Saul and Inspector General of the Social Security Administration, Gail S. Ennis, encourage the public to use the new online form to report Social Security phone scams including robocalls and live callers, as well as email, text and in-person scams. The form allows people to create a unique personal identification number, so if OIG contacts a person about their report, they will know the call is legitimate.
“Awareness is our best hope to thwart the scammers,” said 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 increases, 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.