What You Can Do If You Suspect A Fraudulent Ssdi Or Ssi Claim
Updated By Bethany K. Laurence, Attorney
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and SSI disability benefits are granted to those who become disabled and are unable to work. These benefits are an important safety net for Americans who are disabled, but unfortunately, they sometimes provide an opportunity for dishonest people to take advantage of the system in order to collect benefits and avoid work. SSDI fraud costs taxpayer money and harms not only the Social Security system and the truly disabled, but also the taxpayers as a whole. If you suspect SSDI fraud, you can take action to report it.
Attorney General Hunter Issues Consumer Alert On Social Security Administration Phone Scams
OKLAHOMA CITY Attorney General Mike Hunter today warned Oklahomans to be aware of phone calls from scam artists claiming to be with the Social Security Administration and attempting to steal social security numbers and money.
A scam will typically involve the con artist telling individuals their social security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it has been involved in a crime. The scammers will then request for the victim to confirm their social security number in order to reactivate it.
In other instances, scammers will tell victims their bank account is about to be seized. In order to keep it safe, the individual needs to put money on a gift card and give them the codes.
Attorney General Hunter said scam phone calls are extremely hard to trace and the best course of action is to hang up the phone.
Oklahomans need to be on high alert about this growing, deceitful scam, Attorney General Hunter said. If they receive phone calls with someone claiming to be with the SSA and asking for their social security number or money, they need to hang up the phone immediately. Authorities with the SSA will never call an individual requesting information or money over the phone.
Although my office welcomes consumers to file complaints, the best action individuals can take is to learn about these scams and be informed to prevent loss.
The FTC offers the following tips to avoid being taken advantage of by a scam:
When In Doubt Ask Yourself
- Why is the caller pressuring me to act immediately? Am I certain the caller is a CRA employee?
- Did I file my tax return on time? Have I received a notice of assessment or reassessment saying I owe tax?
- Have I received written communication from the CRA by email or mail about the subject of the call?
- Does the CRA have my most recent contact information, such as my email and address?
- Is the caller asking for information I would not give in my tax return or that is not related to the money I owe the CRA?
- Did I recently send a request to change my business number information?
- Do I have an instalment payment due soon?
- Have I received a statement of account about a government program I owe money to, such as employment insurance or Canada Student Loans?
If you do have a debt with the CRA and can’t pay in full, take action right away. For more information, go to When you owe money collections at the CRA.
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Reporting Disability Fraud Can You Remain Anonymous
If you are reporting disability fraud, you have the option to remain anonymous during the reporting process. However, keep in mind that this may limit the Social Security Administrations ability to investigate your allegations, since the office will not be able to follow up with you for additional information.
To report fraud, waste, or abuse online, fill out this form on the Social Security website.
To report it via mail, send your report to:
Social Security Fraud Hotline
P.O. Box 17785
Baltimore, MD 21235
To report via telephone, call the Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 from 10AM to 4PM Eastern Time. If you cannot reach a representative during this time, you may also report disability fraud through the Social Security toll-free number, and your information will be sent to the Fraud Hotline. Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 , Monday through Friday, from 7AM to 7PM.
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Attorney General’s Scam Alert: Social Security Scam Calls On The Rise
Concord, NH Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald issues a scam alert for New Hampshire residents, especially its older adult population, related to a rise in Social Security-related scam calls. Over the last month, the Attorney General’s Consumer hotline has experienced a sharp increase in calls reporting Social Security-related scams.
New Hampshire residents have received scam phone calls from an automated message stating there has been “fraud” associated with the recipient’s Social Security Number. The message asks the recipient to press “1” or stay on the line to speak with an individual who can “help” or “assist” with the fraud. The recipient is then connected to an individual who requests personal identifying information, including the recipient’s name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. Those receiving this type of call have reported that the scammers use scare tactics and threatening language in attempts to obtain the personal information. It has also been reported that the scammers are leaving messages when their calls go unanswered, requesting that recipients call them back.
The Attorney General’s Office reminds New Hampshire residents that the Social Security Administration will never:
- Threaten you
- Suspend your Social Security Number
- Demand immediate payment, require payment by cash, gift card, pre-paid debit card, or wire transfer or
- Ask for gift card numbers over the phone.
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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.
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.
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Report Scams To The Federal Government
You can report scams to the federal government. Your report may keep others from experiencing a scam. Government agencies use reports of scams to track scam patterns. They may even take legal action against a company or industry based on the reports. However, agencies usually dont follow up after you report, and can’t recover lost money.
Do not use the agency contact information included in scam messages. Use contact information in the federal agency directory to report other government imposters.
Report Disaster and Emergency Scams
Report coronavirus scams and other scams about disasters and emergencies.
Use the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s web complaint form or call .
Find more information on identifying and reporting coronavirus scams.
Report Most Common Scams
The Federal Trade Commission is the main agency that collects scam reports. Report the scam to the FTC online, or by phone at . The FTC accepts complaints about most scams, including these popular ones:
- Phone calls
- Demands for you to send money
- Student loan or scholarship scams
- Prize, grants, and sweepstakes offers
The FTC also collects reports of identity theft. Report identity theft online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone at .
Report Online and International Scams
Report IRS or Social Security Imposter Scams
Scammers often pretend to work for the Social Security Administration or Internal Revenue Service . Common signs include:
Social Security Scam Robocall
The general rule is thisif you are asked to give your social security number over a robocall, its not a legitimate call.
The most frequent types of social security-related scams involve an automated message informing you that your social security number has been compromised and linked to criminal activity, or that your social security benefits will expire.
Alternatively, the callers can claim youre entitled to a rise in your social security benefits, but would first need to confirm your name, date of birth, and social security number. Once they are equipped with this information, the scammers can hijack your Social Security account and drain your money out of it.
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How Not To Become A Victim Of Social Security Fraud Calls
Regulators report thousands of complaints about the calls. Here are some tips on protecting yourself, and your money.
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By Ann Carrns
Youve probably received one: A recorded call warns of a problem with your Social Security number. To fix it and avoid legal action, youre told, you must call back immediately and pay up.
Many people know to ignore these calls. But the criminals can be so convincing that some people fall victim to the schemes and end up losing money often by buying gift cards and revealing their PINs.
Its not clear whether the volume of calls is increasing, but the government is getting thousands of complaints about them, Gail Ennis, the Social Security Administrations inspector general, said in a call this week with reporters. The office has received about 250,000 online complaints since unveiling a new, dedicated digital reporting form in November.
Other regulators report a flood of reports as well. The Federal Trade Commission says its fraud network received more than 166,000 complaints last year about fraudulent Social Security calls, with individual losses averaging about $1,500. And the Senates Special Committee on Aging said Social Security impersonation schemes were the most-reported fraud on its fraud hotline last year.
Here are some questions and answers about fake Social Security calls:
If You Have Been Victim Of Fraud
You can ask for a new SIN only if you can prove that your SIN was used fraudulently.
However, getting a new SIN will not necessarily protect you from fraud or identity theft. If someone else uses your old SIN as identification and the business does not check the person’s identity with the credit bureau, credit lenders may still ask you to pay the impostor’s debts. Each time, you will have to prove that you were not involved in the fraud.
If we issue you a new SIN, you will need to contact all your financial institutions, creditors, pension providers and employers to ask them to update your files.
Note: Service Canada cannot correct a credit file. It is up to you to contact your financial institution, report any discrepancies and have them resolved.
If you have proof that someone else is using your SIN, an investigation is required.
An indication that your SIN is being used fraudulently is when you receive a Notice of Reassessment from the Canada Revenue Agency concerning undeclared earnings. This means that another person has used your SIN for employment purposes or to receive other taxable income.
You must visit your nearest Service Canada Centre with your original proof of identity documents and provide proof that another person has used your SIN.
Here’s what you will need to provide to Service Canada if you suspect someone is using your SIN:
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Learn About And Report Scams
The Federal Trade Commission has many resources to help you learn about scams, and report and recover from identity theft at the links below:
Learn about unemployment insurance fraud and how to report it to your state workforce agency at the Department of Justices National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force page. The Department of Labor OIG has also created an unemployment insurance fraud Consumer Protection Guide with helpful information.
If you believe you have been a victim of an IRS impersonation scam, please report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Report violations of U.S. federal law or suspected terrorism or criminal activity to the Federal Bureau of Investigation at fbi.gov/tips.
Social Security Combats Fraud
Social Security has zero tolerance for fraud. We diligently work at the national, regional, and local level to combat fraud that undermines our mission to serve the American public.
To meet this challenge, we work closely with the OIG who investigates allegations of fraud and seek to bring offenders to justice. They refer cases to U.S. attorneys within the Department of Justice, among other state and local prosecuting authorities, for prosecution as a federal crime.
Visit our OIGs Investigations page to view a list of recent fraud investigations.
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If An Organization Asks For A Sin And It Is Not Legally Required
If you believe your SIN isn’t required, ask why it is being requested, how it will be used and with whom it will be shared.
If your SIN is not required by law, explain that you prefer not to provide it. Offer different proof of identity.
If the organization refuses to provide the product or service unless you provide your SIN, ask to speak to the person in charge. Many organizations don’t know about the appropriate uses of the SIN. Once they understand, they may willingly change their practices.
If you are not satisfied with the organization’s response, you may formally complain to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada or 1-800-282-1376. There is no fee for making a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.
You can also contact the organization’s industry association, ombudsman or complaint office. For example, the Canadian Marketing Association and the Canadian Banking Ombudsman handle customer complaints about their member companies.
For more information on laws about your privacy and the Government of Canada, visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
In 2020 Victims Were Swindled Out Of Nearly $45 Million In Social Security
This is the story of how my sister nearly fell for a Social Security scam. Her panicked call to me as she was on the line with a criminal trying to steal her money illustrates just how people fall for this type of fraud.
No doubt youve received a similar call, either from an individual or a recorded voice, claiming your Social Security number has been compromised because of criminal activity. You are told unless you respond immediately usually by sending money, buying gift cards or revealing bank account details youll be arrested or your Social Security number will be suspended.
Its a lie, but one that is so believable, last year victims were swindled out of nearly $45 million, with an average individual loss of $5,800, according to the Office of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. More than 700,000 complaints of Social Security-related telephone scams were filed in 2020. A suburban Chicago man pleaded guilty early this year to laundering cash from a scheme that defrauded elderly victims. The scam allegedly conned an elderly Massachusetts woman out of $900,000 that she was urged to transfer from her bank and retirement accounts.
Social Security numbers cant be suspended. No government agency will ask you to pay with gift cards. The feds will never threaten arrest or legal action unless you immediately send cash.
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How To Tell If Its Legitimate Or A Scam
Scammers are aware that people are catching on to their attempts, so theyre coming up with new ways to convince Social Security beneficiaries that their frauds are legitimate. Heres what to watch for so you can protect yourself and others from Social Security scams.
1. Threatening arrest or legal action: If you receive a threatening phone call claiming that theres an issue with your Social Security number or benefits, its a scam. The Social Security Administration will never threaten you with arrest or other legal action if you dont immediately pay a fine or fee.
2. Emails or texts with personally identifiable information: If theres a legitimate problem with your Social Security number or record, the SSA will mail you a letter to notify you of any issues.
3. Misspellings and grammar mistakes: If the caller follows up with emails containing falsified letters or reports that appear to be from the SSA or SSAs OIG, look closely. The letters may use government “jargon” or letterhead that appears official in order to help convince victims, but they may also contain misspellings and grammar mistakes.
5. Offers to increase benefits in exchange for payment: Similarly, SSA employees will never promise to increase your Social Security benefits, or offer other assistance, in exchange for payment.