Skip to main content

How to avoid social security scams

Learn how criminals access your Social Security information and what you can do to protect yourself against becoming a fraud victim.

How To Avoid Social Security Scams.jpg

Social Security payments are an essential lifeline for 70 million retired and disabled workers. Unfortunately, because there are so many Social Security recipients – and so much money moving every month – it makes them a preferred target of scammers.

How big of a problem is this? In 2023 alone, scammers stole $126 million from hard-working Americans like you. That’s why it’s so important to:

  • Recognize how these con artists will attempt to take advantage of you.
  • Take action – or even no action – to avoid becoming their next victim.
  • Know whom to contact if you believe fraud has occurred.
What The Scammer Does
  1. The scammer makes contact. This can happen in many ways – through social media, a phone call, text message or email.
  2. The scammer seems authentic. The caller ID or email may include “Social Security Administration,” or other official-looking labels, logos and credentials.
  3. The scammer is phishing for your personal information. Maybe they’re impersonating the Social Security office with an offer to increase your payments. Or they could present themselves as an employee of your bank or doctor’s office. In most cases, they’re trying to entice you with incentives, or press you into action with an urgent problem that you need to address immediately. But what they’re really doing is prying things like your Social Security number, bank account numbers, passwords and other details from you (or your computer or phone).
  4. The scammer redirects your Social Security payment. So much of our world operates electronically, including the convenience of direct deposit. The hacker can access your Social Security online profile with key pieces of information gathered from you, request a replacement card, and steal your money!

And if all this wasn’t concerning enough, according to the Social Security Administration, these criminals are now impersonating government “agents” and pressuring their targets to use cash or gift cards to resolve “issues.” (The SSA will never ask you for payment in this way.)


How to Avoid Being Scammed
  • Don’t panic. The criminal is trying to create a sense of urgency and lead you to reveal something about yourself that they can use against you. 
  • Don’t engage. As we mentioned earlier, the best way to avoid giving away information is hanging up the phone, deleting the email without clicking on any links or buttons, or not responding to a suspicious social media message, even if it appears to be from a friend or loved one.
  • Never share any personal details. This may seem obvious, but even something as simple as clicking a link in an email could expose your device to cyber attack along with all of your personal information stored on it.
  • Do your own independent research after the fact. If you still have concerns, you can always contact the Social Security Administration or by calling 1-800-772-1213

What if You Are a Victim of a Scam?

In spite of your best efforts, even if you follow all of these tips, criminals may still find a way to poach your identity. In these cases, you can:

  • Block electronic access to your Social Security account. You can request this by calling 1-800-772-1213. This will eliminate the ability for anyone, including yourself, to view or alter your personal information online or through the automated telephone service.
  • Contact your bank, credit union and any other financial institutions where you have accounts to ensure they haven’t been hacked. You can then add protections, replace cards, or take other actions that they recommend.
  • Reach out to the proper authorities. This could mean contacting police, and also reporting the incident with the Social Security Office of Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271, or with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338 for all other types of scams.


Discover More Ways to Protect Your Money

Join the WorkMoney community today. To become a member, you’ll only need to share your phone and email via our secure site so we can keep you informed on the latest opportunities to make your money work harder and go farther. We promise we’ll never ask you for more.