Here’s one way to stop scammers: Fight back.
That’s what the Social Security Administration and its inspector general are doing. They’ve launched a new online reporting form and are encouraging consumers to report any imposter scam calls they receive.
This type of scam — 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 number-one type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration.
The SSA will use the online form at https://oig.ssa.gov to capture data that will be analyzed for trends and commonalities. The Office of Inspector General will use the data to identify investigative leads, which could help identify criminal entities or individuals participating in or facilitating the scams. Ultimately, these efforts are expected to disrupt the scammers, help reduce this type of fraud, and reduce the number of victims, according to the SSA.
“We are taking action to raise awareness and prevent scammers from harming Americans,” said Commissioner Andrew Saul in a recent news release. “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 Gail 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 (PIN), 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 by telephone for business purposes. However, Social Security employees will never threaten a person, or promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information or money.
In those cases, the call is fraudulent and people should just hang up.
To avoid getting scammed, remember that 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.