Thousands of individuals collect Social Security benefits each year. While these financial benefits are extremely valuable to the recipients and their families, applying for benefits can unfortunately leave applications susceptible to scammers seeking to steal personal information like Social Security numbers and banking information.
Scammers have developed incredibly sophisticated tactics over the years, and it can be difficult to distinguish fraudulent communications from authentic ones if you don’t know what to look for. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently published a list to help you recognize a potential scam and protect your personal information. According to their recent blog post, SSA will never do any of the following:
- Text or email images of an employee’s official government identification.
- Suspend your Social Security number.
- Threaten you with arrest or other legal action unless you immediately pay a fine or fee.
- Require payment by retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or mailing cash.
- Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
- Send official letters or reports containing your personal information via email.
If you experience any of these things in a conversation with someone claiming to be a Social Security representative, do not give them any of your personal information and end the conversation. If you have a conversation that makes you uncomfortable, trust your instincts! Phone scams can be particularly convincing, so we encourage you to get familiar with Social Security’s practices so you can feel prepared if you do receive a fraudulent call. To get started, watch this video made by SSA about spotting and properly responding to phone scams.
If a scammer does contact you, don’t be alarmed. Unfortunately, fraud is far too common, and Social Security beneficiaries may be particularly vulnerable to schemes due to health issues, financial strain, or old age. SSA is continuously updating their fraud prevention efforts and there are several resources available on www.ssa.gov to help you learn more about Social Security fraud and what you can do to stop it.
Nothing in this post is intended as advice or a suggestion to elect or not elect to claim benefits of any kind, including Social Security benefits, nor is it intended as financial advice in any way. The decision to claim benefits is a personal one that is contingent upon each individual’s unique circumstances.