Thursday, February 29, 2024

There’s this Social Security scam going around so don’t fall for it

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)

Authorities are urging the public to be on the lookout for calls from scam artists, who also are sending fake Social Security documents by email “to convince victims to comply with their demands.”

The alert was recently issued by Gail S. Ennis, the inspector general of Social Security.

The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General has received reports from people who received emails with attached letters and reports that appeared to be from Social Security or Social Security OIG.

The letters may use “official” letterhead and government “jargon” to convince potential victims they are legitimate; they may also contain misspellings and grammar mistakes, according to the alert.

This is the latest variation on Social Security phone scams, which continue to be widespread throughout the United States.

Using robocalls or live callers, fraudsters pretend to be government employees and claim there is identity theft or another problem with one’s Social Security number, account, or benefits, federal officials said.

They may threaten arrest or other legal action, or may offer to increase benefits, protect assets, or resolve identity theft. They often demand payment via retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency such as Bitcoin, or pre-paid debit card, according to the alert.

Ennis urges continued vigilance against all types of phone scams no matter what “proof” callers may offer.

Ennis said Social Security will never:

  • Threaten you with arrest or other legal action unless you immediately pay a fine or fee;
  • Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment;
  • Require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card; or
  • Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.

If there is ever a problem with your Social Security number or record, in most cases Social Security will mail you a letter, Ennis said in the alert.

If you do need to submit payments to Social Security, the agency will send a letter with instructions and payment options. You should never pay a government fee or fine using retail gift cards, cash, internet currency, wire transfers, or pre-paid debit cards, Social Security officials said.

The scammers ask for payment that way because it’s very difficult to trace and recover, officials said.

If you receive a call or email that you believe to be suspicious, about a problem with your Social Security number or account, hang up or do not respond.

Officials encourage the public to report Social Security phone scams using our dedicated online form.

Click here for more information.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzohttp://wydaily.com
John Mangalonzo (john@localdailymedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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