Social Security Scams: How to Handle Calls Claiming There’s a Problem with Your Account

close up shot of social security card.
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Social Security scams have been on the rise recently, and some experts say it’s only going to get worse in 2022. Scams range from mail fraud to callers pretending to be Social Security officials creating an urgent need for your personal information over the phone. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming there’s a problem with your Social Security number or account, here’s how you can protect yourself. 

See: Social Security Scams: 3 Common Requests and How To Report Them
Find: 5 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About Social Security

The Social Security Administration states that if there is a problem at all with any aspect of your number, account, etc they will mail you a letter first. Generally, you will only receive a phone call from them if you yourself have previously requested the call or if you have ongoing business with them. 

One of the latest scam tricks is fraudsters using robocalls or live callers pretending to be government employees and claiming there is identity theft or another problem with your SSN, account, or benefits. These criminals often threaten arrest or other legal action or may offer to increase your benefit check, protect assets or resolve the supposed identity theft. They then demand payment via a retail gift card, wire transfer, prepaid debit cards, digital currency or even ask you to mail cash.

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Important to remember: Social Security employees will never threaten you for information or promise a benefit in exchange for your money or personal information. This is Social Security — they already have all of your personal information.

The Social Security Administration says to look out for:

  • A caller saying there is a problem with your SSN or account.
  • Any call asking you to pay a fine or debt with retail gift cards, wire transfers, prepaid debit cards, internet currency, or by mailing cash.
  • Scammers pretending they’re from us or another government agency. Caller ID or documents sent by email may look official but they are not.

Social Security will never threaten you, suspend your SSN, demand immediate payment from you, require payment by cash, prepaid debit card, internet currency or wire transfer, ask for gift card numbers over the phone or to wire/mail cash, ask for personal or banking information to give you a COLA.

See: Social Security Scams: How To Protect Yourself
Find: How To Boost Your Social Security Benefit With Supplemental Security Income

If you receive one of these calls, hang up. You can report the criminals through the agency’s Inspector General Website or call the Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 

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