Learning Center

Hi, I'm Mark, the host of SAFE Cents! Welcome to our Learning Center, a place where you can improve your financial health.

How Scammers Hook Social Security Recipients

Blog Post
2 min read
social security card

On March 7, SAFE observed National "Slam the Scam" Day. This initiative, established by the U.S. Social Security’s Office of the Inspector General, aims to raise awareness about government imposter scams affecting individuals across the United States. Here’s what you should know if you or someone you care about is a  Social Security beneficiary.

Understanding Social Security Scams

Social Security scams involve individuals pretending to be from the Social Security Administration or the Office of the Inspector General. These scams claim there is a problem, and the beneficiary needs to immediately provide confidential information or pay money to solve it.

Crooks initiate contact using phishing methods. Imposters send official looking letters, emails, text messages, or social media to initiate contact. Some may falsely use the names of real employees and even share a copy of a counterfeit work badge to establish credibility.

Social Security Scam Red Flags

Similar to other types of scams, crooks posing as government employees use manipulation to convince their target to pay money or share confidential information. Most scam scenarios contain a grain of truth making them seem plausible. But you can see past the ruse if you stay alert to the warning signs.

Watch out for their manipulative tactics that might include:

  • Implying or stating that you risk losing your Social Security number. 
  • Threatening legal action or jail time for failing to comply with a request.
  • Pressuring you to make a payment using cash, gift cards, or wire transfers.
  • Offering to protect benefits by moving them to an alternate bank account.
  • Suggesting a loss of a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) if you don’t act now.

Bad actors demand or strongly suggest that you keep the communication to yourself. They do not want you to verify the situation or speak to someone who might get you to doubt what they say.

How to Avoid a Social Security Scam

Scammers might use spoofing tools, stolen insignias, and counterfeit websites to seem credible. To avoid falling victim to these scams, it's important to be aware of how the Social Security Administration typically interacts with the public. The Social Security Administration will NOT:

  • Message you via social media for personal transactions. 
  • Request that you send them cash or wire them money.
  • Send you to links to pages which do not appear on ssa.gov.
  • Encourage following unofficial Social Security Administration channels.
  • Direct you to submit financial information using unsecure means like email, text, or social media.

If you suspect a Social Security scam, do not respond. Report the attempt to Office of the Inspector General at oig.ssa.gov/report.