By Vonda Van Til, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist
Scammers are always finding new ways to steal your money and personal information by exploiting your fears. The most effective way to defeat scammers is to know how to identify scams and to ignore suspicious calls and emails.
One common tactic scammers use is posing as federal agents or other law enforcement. They may claim your Social Security number is linked to a crime. They may even threaten to arrest you if you do not comply with their instructions. Here are three things you should do:
- Hang up right away or do not reply to the email.
- Never give personal information or payment of any kind.
- Report the scam at ssa.gov to immediately notify the law enforcement team in our Office of the Inspector General.
You should continue to remain vigilant of phone calls when someone says there’s a problem with your Social Security number or your benefits. If you owe money to us, we will mail you a letter explaining your rights, payment options, and information about appealing.
There are a few ways you can identify a scam call or email. Remember that we will never:
- Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you 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.
- Demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem.
- Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.
If you do not have ongoing business with our agency, it is unlikely we will contact you. Again, if you get a suspicious call claiming to be from us or law enforcement about Social Security, you should hang up and report it right away to our Office of the Inspector General at oig.ssa.gov.
Vonda Van Til is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.