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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Social Security scams remain a national problem

Social Security scams — where fraudsters attempt to mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments to fix purported Social Security number problems or to avoid arrest — are an ongoing government imposter fraud scheme, according to federal officials.

For several years, Social Security impersonation scams have been one of the most common government imposter scams reported to the Federal Trade Commission. Social Security has made concerted efforts to address this issue and extensive outreach and investigative efforts are having a positive impact, decreasing scam reports to OIG by more than 20 percent since 2020.

“I am proud of the work we have done to combat Social Security imposter scams, yet I remain deeply concerned that fraudsters continue trying to deceive people into providing personal information or money,” said Acting Social Security Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi. “Above all, I urge people to remain alert, hang up if a scammer calls and ignore their attempts if you receive a suspicious email, text, or letter.”

Criminals are sophisticated and there are many variations of this fraud scheme. For example, scammers may call or email saying they are from Social Security and that the person’s Social Security number is suspended or was used in a crime.

The caller identification may be spoofed to appear as a legitimate government number. They may text or email fake documents in attempts to coerce people to comply with their demands. Another common tactic is citing “badge numbers.” In the latest development involving Social Security-related scams, criminals are using fraudulent Social Security letterhead to target individuals for money or personal information.

Social Security will never tell you that your Social Security number is suspended, contact you to demand an immediate payment, threaten you with arrest, ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone, ask for gift cards or cash, or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information or money.

“As we continue working with our law enforcement partners and partners from the private sector to combat these sinister schemes, I urge consumers to simply hang up the phone, or delete suspicious texts and emails, without responding to the scammers,” Social Security Inspector General Gail Ennis said. “That is the easiest and most effective way to avoid falling prey to these vicious scams.”

If you have been the target of a scam, your first contact should be the local authorities. Also, feel free to contact us with details (we can keep your name confidential, if you wish).

Send your story to: rahnl@windomnews.com, or call 507-831-3455. By sharing your story, you could prevent someone from being scammed.
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