The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, issued a warning this week of a new tactic by government imposters to reach — and victimize — Americans by phone.
The agency has received reports of text messages on cell phones that appear to come from Social Security. The texts warn about a Social Security number problem and ask the recipient to call a number back to resolve the problem and avoid legal action.
“This trick appears to be the latest development in continuing widespread scams meant to deceive Americans into providing money and personal information to scammers,” the agency said.
Social Security states it will never send a text asking for a return call to an unknown number. Social Security will only send text messages if you have opted in to receive texts from the agency and only in limited situations, including the following:
- When you have requested or subscribed to receive updates and notifications from Social Security by text.
- As part of Social Security’s enhanced security when accessing your personal my Social Security account.
Social Security said it will never:
- Threaten you with arrest or other legal action unless you immediately pay a fine or fee.
- Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
- Require payment by retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or by mailing cash.
- Send official letters or reports containing your personal information via email.
If an individual owes money to Social Security, the agency will mail a letter with payment options and appeal rights. “You should never pay a government fee or fine using retail gift cards, cash, internet currency, wire transfers, or pre-paid debit cards,” the agency wrote.
Inspector General Ennis urged the public to be very cautious when receiving unsolicited calls from any purported government agency, and to discuss any major financial decision only with trusted family members or friends.
If you receive a call, text, or email that you believe to be suspicious about a problem with your Social Security number or account, do not respond or engage with the caller or sender. Report these Social Security scams through the agency’s dedicated online form at https://oig.ssa.gov.