Social Security Scams: How To Protect Report And Recover From Fraud
Our most recent Consumer Pulse revealed digital fraud has risen significantly in the last year.In fact, since March of 2020, reports of digital fraud have increased 73%.One popular schemeinvolves fraudsters impersonating Social Security Administration employees to try to trick you into revealing your valuable personal information or trying to get you to pay them for a made-up violation. They may threaten or demand immediate payment to avoid legal action. The SSA stated they received almost 700,000 allegations of Social Security scams carried out by calls, emails, text messages or mail. Below we explain how to avoid these scams, how to report them and what to do if you accidentally fall victim.
Fraudulent Threatening Phone Calls
When the National Council on Aging announced its “Scams to Watch Out For” in 2019, bogus phone calls related to Social Security benefits topped the list. The Federal Trade Commission says the number of such calls and their financial impact is growing exponentially.
The calls often involve peopleor robotic voicespretending to be from the Social Security Administration who try to get your Social Security number or demand money, according to the FTC. The agency warns that callers sometimes use spoofing techniques to make the genuine Social Security hotline number appear on the recipients caller ID screen. The caller may also identify themselves using the name of an actual SSA official.
The SSA says the language used in these calls has become increasingly threatening in recent years. The caller typically states that due to improper or illegal activity with the persons Social Security number or account, they will be arrested or face other legal action unless they call a particular phone number to address the issue.
The tone of such calls is itself an indicator that they are fraudulent. The SSA does contact some recipients by phone, but theyre almost always people who have current business with the agency. And an SSA employee will never threaten you for information they will not state that you face potential arrest or other legal action if you fail to provide information, the agency says. In cases the call is fraudulent.
Confirming Ssdi Or Ssi Fraud
First, you need to realize that such an accusation is a serious one and may result in criminal and civil penalties. Make sure your facts are correct and that you have enough information about the personâs situation. Remember, all physical disabilities are not visually obvious and not all disabilities are physical some may be mental . This means it can be hard to really know if a person is disabled.
Second, know that a person receiving SSDI or SSI disability benefits is allowed to work a minimal amount . So just because you know that someone is working or collecting a paycheck doesnât mean theyâre necessarily committing fraud.
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What Happens After I Report Someone
The DWP Single Fraud Investigation Service will look at the information you give. If youve given enough information, theyll check the persons benefit claim.
The Single Fraud Investigation Service isnt allowed to tell you the outcome.
Sometimes no action is taken. It might be that the person has declared a change in their circumstances and their benefit is not affected by it.
The Single Fraud Investigation Service will only take action if they find the person has been committing benefit fraud. Action can include removing a persons benefits and taking them to court.
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Avoiding Social Security Fraud: Leave Your Social Security Card At Home
Once you receive your replacement Social Security card, lock it away in a safe place until you absolutely need it. Experts advise to avoid carrying your card around on a regular basis partly because of the risk of losing it again, and partly because you really dont need to present your Social Security card on a regular basis. In fact, one Social Security expert says that Social Security cards are irrelevant in the digital age, and the real priority should be targeted at fraud protection.
Its extremely rare that you need your actual Social Security card, says Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq., an Amherst, Massachusetts-based college professor whose expertise is in investigating white-collar crime. A Social Security number is the most important piece of information that a criminal can use to make you a victim of identity theft so you shouldnt carry it with you in your wallet, anyway.
But if you do lose your card, Weisman recommends taking direct action to protecting the cardholder from financial fraud.
Because of the danger of identity theft if your Social Security card is lost, you should put a credit freeze on your credit reports at each of the three major credit reporting agencies in order to prevent someone from leveraging the Social Security number into accessing your credit or establishing accounts in your name, he says.
Other data security experts agree, citing the high risk of losing a card if you cart it around in your wallet or pocketbook.
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Report Scams To Third Parties
You may want to report the scam to organizations outside of the government. Third parties may be able to get your money back or remove fraudulent charges.
Report a scam that happened with an online seller or a payment transfer system to the companys fraud department.
If you used your credit card or bank account to pay a scammer, report it to the card issuer or bank. Also report scams to the major credit reporting agencies. Place a fraud alert on your credit report to prevent someone from opening credit accounts in your name.
How To Avoid Robocalls
For now, there are precautions you can take to minimize the number of robocalls you receive.
List Your Phone Number With the Do Not Call Registry
By signing up for the Do Not Call Registry, you can request that your landline or cellular phone number be removed from the call lists companies use. That should help reduce the number of calls you get from legitimate telemarketers and robocallers.
Youll still get calls from organizations with which you have established a business relationship, and you should realize that many dishonest robocallers ignore the laws and will call you anyway.
Sign Up for Your Carriers Robocall Alert Service
Many companies, including AT& T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon, have introduced services that alert you that an incoming robocall may be from a scammer or spammer. In some cases, such services are free, but for a few dollars more per month you can get a more robust version that can block the robocalls from ringing on your phone.
Instead of simply being alerted to incoming robocalls, a call-blocking app can intercept robocalls before they reach you, says Mahoney of Consumers Union. Among the providers are Nomorobo, which charges $2 per month for its service , and free apps such as Hiya, Mr. Number, RoboKiller, and YouMail.
Reject Anonymous Calls
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If Your Drivers License Or Dmv
Immediately contact your local DMV office to report the theft. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your license. Then call the toll-free DMV Fraud Hotline at 1-866-658-5758. If the thief is using your license as ID, you may want to change your license number. Ask DMV for an appointment. Take a copy of the police report and copies of bills or other items supporting your claim of fraud. You will also need to prove your identity. Take current documents such as a passport, a certification of citizenship or naturalization, or a U.S. military photo ID. DMV will issue a new license or ID card number when you meet all the requirements.
How To Report Identity Theft
Reporting identity theft starts by filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission at IdentityTheft.gov or calling 1-877-438-4338. Once you fill out the FTC report, you may also file a police report, especially if you have an idea of who may be behind the crime. To prevent damage to your credit, contact your bank, credit card issuer and the credit bureaus to notify them of the situation.
When it comes to phishing emails, you can forward them to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at email@example.com. Text messages can be forwarded to SPAM . Remember to report the phishing attack to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
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A Message From Social Security
We are committed to preventing, detecting, and eliminating fraud in our programs.
Our mission is to deliver services that meet the changing needs of the public. Every day our employees diligently work to ensure the public receives the services and benefits they deserve. We strive to ensure the integrity of our programs and provide a high level of service to the public despite the efforts of those who seek to abuse our programs.
Fraudulent Friendly Service Phone Calls
Another type of scam call attempts to sell to the recipient services the SSA readily provides at no charge. The caller might, for example, offer to provide a new Social Security card, enroll a new family member in the program, or provide a record of Social Security contributions to date, along with the expected future income they will yield.
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How Do I Report Disability Fraud
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If you suspect any sort of disability fraud, you can report it to the Social Security Administration via Internet, phone, or mail. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, fraud is any act of intentional deception in order to receive an unlawful benefit. Examples of disability fraud may include making false statements on claims or concealing employment in order to continue receiving disability benefits.
Earn Ssa Work Credits In Some Countries
You may not have enough credits from your work in the United States to qualify for retirement benefits. But, you may be able to count your work credits from another country. The SSA has agreements with 24 countries. If you earned credits in one of those countries, they can help you qualify for U.S. benefits.
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How And Where To Report Fraud
If you do not want your name, address and telephone disclosed, then you need to make an anonymous report on the Fraud Hotline at 252-3642.
If you would prefer to submit your information via email you may do so to .
WARNING: Once you send your email message and the Texas Workforce Commission receives it, the message becomes an official state record. Included as part of the message is the identifier that is inserted by your internet service provider, which cannot be removed from the record pursuant to Texas Penal Code Chapter 37. The accused has a special right of access under the Public Information Act to review the official record and/or obtain copies of the record. Therefore, if you wish to remain anonymous, DO NOT contact TWC via email. Instead, you may report any allegations by calling the TWC Fraud Hotline at 800-252-3642. For Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf , call Relay Texas at: 711 .
You may also report suspected fraud, waste and abuse involving state resources directly to the State Auditorâs Office . You may contact the SAO through the SAO Hotline website or by calling the SAO Hotline at 800-TX-AUDIT 892-8348.
Examples Of Social Security Disability Fraud
Close to 13 million Americans received social security disability benefits in 2016. Although the precise numbers are unknown, the percentage of Americans who received benefits due to disability fraud is extremely low. But it does happen, and there are stiff penalties for those who are caught attempting to defraud the system.
What is Social Security Disability Fraud?
Social security disability fraud is any attempt to obtain benefits you would not be entitled to receive but for the fraudulent action. There are many ways to commit fraud, either alone or in conjunction with one or more people even with an SSA representative. Below are five examples of actions that the SSA considers fraudulent.
Penalties for Social Security Disability Fraud
How to report suspected Social Security Disability Fraud
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What To Do If You Lose Your Social Security Card
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- Your Social Security number can be valuable information for identity thieves
- Consider placing a security freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports if your Social Security card is lost
- If you know your Social Security number has been stolen, there are some additional steps you can take
Your Social Security number is a valuable piece of information to identity thieves. Its a key element of your identity and is also linked to taxes and credit information. And except in limited circumstances, it cant be changed. Thats why its so worrisome to have your card lost or stolen.
Here are some steps to take for a lost or stolen Social Security card:
1. Consider placing a fraud alert or a security freeze on your credit reports or locking them. With an initial fraud alert, potential lenders and creditors are encouraged to take additional steps to verify your identity, such as contacting you by phone, before extending new credit. A fraud alert lasts for one year and can be renewed. Fraud alerts are free. Contact one of the three nationwide credit bureaus Equifax, Experian or TransUnion to request a fraud alert, and that bureau will notify the other two.
Options for locking your credit report may also be available from the three nationwide credit bureaus. Learn more about fraud alerts, security freezes and credit report locks.
You might also consider calling the Social Security Administration at 772-1213 to report the lost card.
Detailed Checks On Your Benefit Claim
If benefit officers believe there is serious fraud, authorised officers will investigate your claim in more detail. They may gather information about you and your family members, and compare it with information already given on claim forms or in interviews.
Officers may contact private and other public organisations that hold information on you including:
- government agencies, including HMRC
- overseas authorities
Officers can only make enquiries where they have reasonable grounds to believe youre committing benefit fraud or are helping someone else to do so.
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How To Apply For A Replacement Social Security Card
If you lose your Social Security card, you may be able to apply for a replacement card online through the Social Security Administration website, if you meet certain requirements. Review them here. Otherwise, youll need to follow an application process that involves providing documentation and completing an application.
Here are 3 simple steps to prepare to apply for a replacement Social Security card:
How To Report Fraud
Do you suspect someone of committing fraud, waste, or abuse against Social Security? You can contact the OIGs fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or submit a report online at .
If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from our agency, hang up, and then report details of the call to the OIG at .
Our investigations are most successful when you provide as much information as possible about the alleged suspect and/or victim involved. The more you can tell us, the better chance we have of determining whether a crime has been committed. As you fill out a fraud allegation, please include the following about the alleged suspect and/or victim:
Its helpful to know facts about the alleged fraud, such as:
- Description of the fraud.
- Location where the fraud took place.
- When the fraud took place.
- How the fraud was committed.
- Why the person committed the fraud .
- Who else has knowledge of the potential violation?
OIG will carefully review your allegation and take appropriate action. However, they cannot provide information regarding the actions taken on any reported allegation. Federal regulations prohibit the disclosure of information contained in law enforcement records, even to the individual making the allegation.
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Password Reset Emails In Your Inbox
If you begin receiving mysterious password reset emails, then this could signal a problem. This could be a sign that someone is attempting to change the password to your accounts without your knowledge. Never click on the links in these emails. It could be a phishing scam designed to capture your SSN or other sensitive information. If the email is from an account or company you recognize, then you should log on directly to their website and change your password immediately. If someone has gained access to your account, then changing your password should keep them out going forward.
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