Slam the Scam: How to spot government imposters

By Hillary Hatch, Social Security Public Affairs Specialist

Do you know how to spot a government imposter scam?  Knowing how to identify potential scammers will help safeguard your personal information.

There are common elements to many of these scams.  Scammers often exploit fears and threaten you with arrest or legal action.  Scammers also pose as Social Security or other government employees and claim there’s a problem with your Social Security number (SSN) or your benefits.  They may even claim your SSN is linked to a crime.

When you identify a potential scammer:

  • Hang up right away or ignore the message.
  • Never give personal information or money.
  • Report the scam immediately to our Office of the Inspector General at

If you owe money to Social Security, we’ll mail you a letter with payment options and appeal rights.  We only accept payments electronically through, Online Bill Pay, or physically by check or money order through our offices.

We will never do the following:

  • Threaten you with arrest or legal action because you don’t agree to pay us money immediately.
  • Promise a benefit increase in exchange for money.
  • Ask you to send us gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, internet currency, cryptocurrency, or cash through the U.S. mail.

Scammers continue to evolve and find new ways to steal your money and personal information.  Please stay vigilant and help raise awareness about Social Security-related scams and other government imposter scams.  For more information on scams, please visit

Tell your friends and family about government imposter scams.  Let them know they don’t have to be embarrassed to report if they shared personal financial information or suffered a financial loss.  The important thing is to report the scam right away.

Together, we can “Slam the Scam!”


Hillary Hatch 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