CFPB Report: How to Spot a Social Security Scam

This week, the CFPB shared some of their tips to spot a Social Security scam. These are most commonly perpetrated in the form of a Robocall, with a recorded voice warning that you are facing legal action due to a problem with your Social Security number. Sometimes, scammers will threaten your benefits. As with all phone calls, emails, and physical mail, it is important to research, verify, and not engage if you have any questions in your mind about the legitimacy of the source.

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Social Security Email Warning Signs

Signs It Might Be a Scam

  1. Threat of arrest or legal action: If a call or email threatens legal action, it is a scam. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will never threaten you or call you in advance of a lawsuit. They will never ask you to pay a fine or fee over the phone without any verification.
  2. Email or text: The SSA will never email or text you, they will only contact you via postal mail. If you receive an email or text message claiming to be the SSA, it is a scam.
  3. Misspellings or grammar errors: If you spot misspellings and grammar errors in the correspondence, it is a scam. The SSA doesn’t write like this, obviously, and many times the scammers are overseas or non-native English speakers, so they are prone to these sorts of errors.
  4. Request for payment by gift card, prepaid card, or wire transfer: The SSA will never ask for payment via any of these methods. The reason scammers will ask for payment via Apple iTunes cards, for instance, is because once the card is loaded and spent it becomes impossible to trace or recover the funds. Wire transfers are another common way for overseas scammers to receive funds and make off with them, since many banks are unable to recoup funds in these types of cases. The government will only ask you to pay via check or credit card via their secure, online sites.
  5. Offers to increase benefits: SSA employees will never offer to increase or improve your Social Security benefits. That is not how the system works. Do not be fooled by anyone claiming that they can get you a better deal on your government benefits. It is a scam!

How to report a scam: Contact the FTC or SSA OIG if you think you have been the victim of a Social Security scam.