Posted by Carmen Garcia

Social Security Issues In A New Text Messaging Scam

Social Security Issues In A New Text Messaging Scam

Given that virtually all retirees receive social security benefits, it is apparently not unexpected that many fraudsters will present the program in fraudulent phone calls, emails, text messages, and letters. The schemes generally involve offenders who present themselves as social security agencies to obtain and therefore misuse Social Security numbers (NHS) and other personal information.

Here is a summary, through the delivery method, of common social security scams, as well as the measures to be taken to avoid them and report any suspected scams.

Key Points to Note

    •    Fraudsters use phone calls, text messages, and emails to reach social security personnel and get people to provide money and personal information.

    •    The common tactic is to threaten to suspend social security benefits or to bill for services provided free of charge by the SSA.

    •    Scams should be reported to the local authorities, the SSA Inspector General's office, or the Federal Trade Commission.

Fraud is not only based on automatic calls and voice messages to reach potential victims: they now send SMS. Social Security Inspector General Gail S. Ennis recently issued a word of warning about the new scam involving scammer using text messages that appear to come from social security. The messages warn of a problem with the social security number and ask the recipient to call a number to resolve the problem to avoid legal action.

This is a ploy by identity thieves who want to steal money and personally identifiable information. Like the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), the SSA (Social Security Administration) will never send text messages asking you to call an unknown number.

However, SSA can send text messages on request or subscribed to receive updates and notifications from SSA by SMS or in the context of advanced social security by logging into your social security account (for a two-way verification method).

And, like the IRS, SSA does not:

    •    Threaten you with arrest or prosecution, unless you pay a fine or charge immediately.

    •    Request payment by gift card, bank transfer, currency on the Internet, or by mail.

    •    Send letters or official reports containing your personal information by email.

    •    Also, SSA never promises performance improvement.

If you owe the IRS or SSA money, you will receive a letter with the payment options and appeal rights. According to the SSA, a government fine or penalty should never be paid using Internet currency, gift cards, cash, bank transfers, or prepaid debit cards. You can read more about IRS payment options.

Inspector General Ennis designated March 5, 2020, as National Slam the Scam day to inform all Americans of these sinister deceptions. You can find more information on the OIG SSA website.

If in doubt, assume it is a scam. If you are unsure whether a text message is legitimate, close it, and call the sender using an official number. Please do not use the caller ID number on the phone, as they can be tampered with. To contact the IRS, call 1-800-829-1040. To contact social security, dial 1-800-772-1213.

Do not associate yourself with fraudsters or thieves (even though you are sure it is a fraud). You might be tempted to tell them that you know they are fraudsters or that you think you can defeat them. Just blacklist the number from sending you text messages or ignore the message(s). You can find more tips on how to protect yourself from identity theft tax fraud on the IRS site.

And one more thing: SSA encourages you to share information about fraud awareness with your friends and family to help them avoid victimization.

How to report fraud

If you think you've been scammed or if you want to report suspicious text messages or social security correspondence, you have numerous options. You can inform local authorities or the OIG phone line (1-800-269-0271). You can complete a public fraud reporting form on the fraud page of the social security site. You can also report a fraud on the FTC Complaints website. Document anything you can add to your report, such as a phone number or website, name of the caller, time and date of call, text or email, what information was requested, and anything that can identify the caller.

Carmen Garcia
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