Social Security retirement is a Federal social insurance program run by the Social Security Administration. Funds collected via payroll taxes paid by current workers are used to pay benefits to retirees. Any funds not distributed are deposited into a trust fund to be used for future years when contributions fall short. Given the size and scope of the program, it is not surprising to learn that there are people who use fraudulent schemes such as phone calls, emails and texts to procure and misuse Social Security numbers and other personal information.
The most common scam that scam artists use is the threatening phone call. Often, such a call will consist of a recording or live person impersonating a Social Security Administration employee. The caller will use threats of involving local law enforcement to demand payment of funds “owed” to the government. The SSA has stated that they do not contact people via telephone unless following a previous communication and will never demand money or threaten you for information.
Also gaining popularity is using fraudulent emails to “phish” for personal information. These emails will have all the same information as an official email from SSA and may even use SSA seals and fonts to try and obtain personal information. Some might even include a link that will take you to a fake web page that looks similar to the real Social Security site. However, SSA also states that they will never seek personal information via email. A good form of vigilance here is to always be sure the web site to which you have navigated was your intended destination.
Now that the internet is the main form of business communication, it is less common to have fraud by mail, but it still occurs. Scammers will send a letter with a fake check asking for banking information, full social security number, or other personal details before they will deposit the funds. The Social Security Administration would not only never ask for your personal information, but will never ask for your full social security number because they already know it.
The best way to protect yourself against scams such as these is to stay aware and if you ever get an unexpected phone call or letter asking for personal information, ignore any requests. Always keep your personal information safe and if you suspect any suspicious activity report it immediately.