Social Security Scams and Identity Theft

Posted by Elliot Marks

Social security scams can be anything that revolves around someone getting personal, sensitive information from you in an attempt to steal money or your identity. This can often occur by criminals or fraudsters impersonating Social Security Administration employees. If a thief is able to take hold of any personal information such as your date of birth or social security number, they may be able to use that info to gain further access to things like bank accounts and credit cards as well.

Social Security Scam Calls

Social Security Employee Imposters Scams

Lately, there have been a lot of reported and confirmed scams in which someone posing as a Social Security employee calls requesting personal details, such as a Social Security number. The caller may tell you that the information is required for them to issue rebates or additional funds, or they may claim that the Social Security Administration's computer system had a hitch and lost your personal information.

You should be wary of this identity theft tactic and hang up immediately. If you do encounter any such calls, it's also a good idea to consider adding these numbers to your blocked calls list to avoid a repeat of such calls in future. If you're ever unsure about whether a call is genuine, it is advisable to disconnect the call and call back using an official number.

The best security measure that you can follow is to never give your personal details or social security number over the phone unless you are the one who made the call. It's important to always use your SSN safely.

Tip: Scammers have mastered the art of spoofing call identification. Even if your caller identification reads “Social Security Administration,” it may not be the truth.

The Technology Update Scam

One particularly devious scam that's been going around lately has to do with an imposter -- posing as a Social Security employee -- telling ta victim that old paper social security cards are being phased out and are being replaced with new theft-proof IDs. The scammer may further claim that they are able to speed up the Social Security card replacement process if the target offers identification and/or bank details.

Remember, you should never give out your Social Security number or any other personal information to anyone over the phone unless you placed the call to an official, verified Social Security Administration phone number.

Fake Email Headers and Phishing

Phone calls aren't the only way that someone can be targeted with such a con. Phishing is the exercise of adopting social engineering techniques, often via email, to trick a recipient into giving personal details, opening a malevolent attachment or clicking on a malevolent link.

Scammers usually design emails that appear as though they have been sent from the Social Security Administration and may direct the recipient to a website designed to appear like a government website. In some cases, these can be almost identical to genuine, official emails and websites.

Social Security Phishing Emails

Detecting Phishing Emails

Social Security Administration emails are usually sent from a from a “.gov” email address. You should be cautious before opening emails without ending in “.gov.” At times, the Social Security Administration engages marketing firms in creating awareness of its online services, such as the online Social Security management website. Such firms are usually allowed to send emails to individuals directly, but the links contained in the mail, if any, usually lead to a “.gov” web address.

To detect phishing emails, before clicking on anything, hover over links with your mouse until you see a text box with the web address. This is to confirm a link's authenticity. If it looks suspicious or contains and extra characters, e.g., (note not ending with “.gov”), this is a scam.

When you are not sure whether an email comes from the Social Security Administration or their assigned marketing firms, do not reply to it or open any of its attachment.

You can also detect phishing emails by:

  • Verifying the sender. Email headers can be spoofed, so this is not a guarantee of safety. It does, however, remain an important first step.
  • Scrutinize an email's language and grammar. Many scammers make mistakes here!
  • Remember that any email asking for your personal information is a scam. Never reply to such emails. The Social Security Administration will never ask for your personal information in an email.
Elliot Marks

Elliot Marks

Author & Social Security Advisor

Elliot Marks has spent over 10 years providing clear and concise information to help Americans navigate the complex nuances of social security and many other government services in the United States. Elliot has a passion for helping those in need of these services to be able to find timely access to news and information that is relevant and helpful to their daily lives.