Posted by Elliot Kravitz, ATP

Beware of Social Security Texting Scams

Beware of Social Security Texting Scams

Voice mails and robocalls are not the scammer’s only option now, they also use the texting strategy. A warning about a new scam that appears to come from Social Security through a text was issued by the Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis. In the text, it will ask the recipient to call a number since there is a Social Security number problem to avoid legal action and in order to resolve the issue. 

Hoping to steal personally identifiable information (PII) and money, this trick by identity is used by most scammers. Requesting a return call to an unknown number will never be asked by the Social Security Administration (SSA) just like the Internal Revenue Services (IRS). 

However, if you have subscribed or requested to receive updates and notification from SSA by texts, the SSA may send messages to you. And also if you are accessing your personal my Social Security account, you may also receive a message from them as part of the two or multi-factor verification.

Similar to IRS, below are the things the SSA will never do:

    •    Unless you will pay the fine or fee, they will keep on threatening you that they will arrest you or take legal action.

    •    Giving you options to send your payment by internet currency, wire transfer, mailing cash, or by a retail gift card.

    •    Sending your personal information in a letter or reports via electronic mail. 

Also, if you will hear that if you will send your payment you will have a benefit increase or other assistance, IRS will never promise you that. 

You will receive a letter with payment options and appeal rights if you owe money to the SSA or IRS. Using a card, retails gift, wire transfers, internet currency, or even pre-paid debit cards are not an option when you pay a government fee or fine according to SSA.  You can pay it by cash, using your check or money order, your debit or credit card, and more. Always discuss major financial decisions with your trusted family or friends. 

Never provide your personal information over the phone especially if the problem they are pertaining to sounds fishy and unfamiliar to you. You should be very cautious about every unsolicited call you will receive. 

To educate every American about these sinister scams, Inspector General Ennis designated National “Slam the Scam” Day on March 5, 2020. 

There is a special joint Facebook live that you can join too that is being conducted by Inspector General Ennis and Associate Director, Monica Vaca of the Consumer Response and Operations at Federal Trade Commission. It started on March 5, 2020, at 7:00 PM E.T. with the title “Slam the Scam: That call is not from Social Security”.

Assume it’s a scam whenever you’re in doubt

You should just hang up a call if you are not sure whether it is legitimate or if it sounds fishy and you are hesitant. You can call back using an official number but always remember that you should not just use the caller ID number on your phones since it can be just easily spoofed. You can call 1.800.772.1213 to reach Social Security and call 1.800.829.1040 to reach the IRS. 

Even if you think you can beat them or you want to tell them that you know it’s a scam because you know for sure that it really is, don’t and never engaged with thieves or scammers. Just delete the mail or hang up the call. 

If you receive an email with attached documents containing your personally identifiable information, better not open it to be safe. 

You can report Social Security scams at oig.ssa.gov and if you encounter imposter scams, you can report them at ftc.gov/complaint.

For your friends, family, and even acquaintances becoming victims, the SSA encourages you to please share scam awareness information. 

Below are the things you can do to prevent yourself from a scam:

    •    Use smart passwords: Don’t use generic, common passwords. Always take notes to always update them. You can use a password manager such as LastPass.

    •    Private documents should be well taken care of: Always keep those credit card statements, copies of tax returns, and bank receipts in one place. Shred the ones that you don’t need any more and file those you still need.

    •    Public wifi means public information: Always remember that when you use public wifi when accessing sites connected to your finances is very risky. You should always be mindful of what you’re doing and where you are located.

Elliot Kravitz, ATP
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