Have you been a victim of a Social Security scam? These scams target Social Security recipients with scare tactics -- like demanding that you act quickly on a payment and then ask for your Social Security number or other personal information over the phone -- and can leave you as a victim in a vulnerable position.
In 2022 alone, victims of government imposter scams reported losing nearly $509 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
So how can you spot these scams, and what should you do if you think you've been scammed yourself? We'll get into all of that and more below.
For more information, here's the ultimate 2023 Social Security cheat sheet, how to get your tax questions answered before contacting the IRS and what Social Security will look like once you retire.
Signs of a scam and tactics of scammers, according to the SSA
The Social Security Administration outlined four common tactics scammers will use to encourage victims to provide them with their personal information. They include:
- Scammers may pretend to be from an organization or agency you know to gain your trust.
- They may taunt you with a problem or prize.
- They may pressure you to act quickly.
- They may tell you you need to pay in a specific way.
There are a few tactics the SSA would never use if it were to call you. According to the SSA, these include:
- Threatening you with arrest or legal action because you don't agree to pay money immediately.
- Suspending your Social Security number.
- Requesting personal information or payments to activate benefits increases.
- Pressuring you to take immediate action by providing personal information.
- Requesting you pay with gift cards, cryptocurrency, wire transfers, mailing cash or other questionable money transfer platforms.
- Threatening to seize your bank account.
- Offering to move your money to a "protected" bank account.
- Demanding secrecy.
If you think you've been scammed, do this
If you think you're being scammed, here's what to do.
1. Hang up and stop interacting with the scammer. Don't click any links or view any attachments the scammer shares.
2. Report it to the Office of the Inspector General by filling out this form.
3. Notify the three major credit bureaus to add a fraud alert to your credit report. These bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
If you did fall for the scammer's call and provided any personal information to them, don't be embarrassed. Make sure you report that you've been a victim of a financial scam and share with the SSA if you've suffered financial losses. You can contact the number below for additional help.
How to contact the Social Security Administration and more
Still have questions? Here are the phone numbers where you can reach these government agencies:
- Social Security phone number: 800-772-1213
- Social Security Disability phone number: 800-772-1213
- Medicare phone number: 800-633-4227
- Social Security Fraud Hotline: 800-269-0271
Have more Social Security questions? Here's how your Social Security benefits will increase in 2023, when to start collecting benefits and who's eligible for Social Security benefits for children.