Fraud Prevention and Reporting
We take fraud seriously and so should you
A message from Social Security
We are committed to preventing, detecting, and eliminating fraud in our programs.
Our mission is to deliver Social Security services that meet the changing needs of the public. Every day our employees work diligently to ensure the public receives the services and benefits it deserves. We strive to ensure the integrity of our programs and provide a high level of service to the public despite the efforts of those who seek to abuse our programs.
What is Social Security fraud?
Generally speaking, fraud involves obtaining something of value through willful misrepresentation. In the context of the Social Security program, our policy states that fraud exists when a person with intent to defraud makes, or causes to be made, a false statement, or misrepresents, conceals, or fails to disclose a material fact for use in determining rights under the Social Security Act. Information is “material” when it could influence SSA’s determination on entitlement or eligibility to benefits under the Act.
Examples of fraud include:
- Making false statements on claims
- Concealing facts or events that affect eligibility for benefits
- Misusing benefits by a representative payee
- Failing to notify the agency of the death of a beneficiary and continuing to receive the deceased person’s benefits
- Buying or selling Social Security cards
- Filing claims under another person’s Social Security number (SSN)
- Scamming people by impersonating our employees
- Bribing our employees
- Misusing grant or contract funds
Scammers commit fraud
The Social Security Administration uses emails, text messages, and social media to provide information on our programs and services. However, we will not request personal or financial information through these methods. Sometimes, we send emails with information that are particular to your needs, usually after a discussion with you in person or over the phone. When we make phone contact, it is often to confirm the legitimacy of claims.
Be alert! It is important to beware of scammers pretending to be from Social Security. Reports about fraudulent phone calls from people claiming to be from Social Security continue to increase.
Social Security may call you in some situations, but will never:
- Threaten you.
- Suspend your Social Security number.
- Demand immediate payment from you.
- Require payment by retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or mailing cash.
- Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from Social Security, hang up, and then report details of the call to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at https://oig.ssa.gov/.
To minimize unwanted phone calls, consider placing your phone number(s) on the National Do Not Call Registry. You can register your home or mobile phone for free. Visit www.donotcall.gov or call (888) 382-1222 to learn more.
Please share this information with your friends and family to help spread awareness about Social Security scams.
Social Security combats fraud
Social Security has zero tolerance for fraud. We aggressively investigate and prosecute those who commit fraud against our programs. Social Security is diligently working at national, regional, and local levels to combat the fraud that undermines our mission to serve the American public. OIG conducts investigations of allegations of SSA fraud. They refer cases to U.S. attorneys within the Department of Justice, among other state and local prosecuting authorities, for prosecution as a Federal Crime.
Measures you can take to prevent fraud
- Do not routinely carry your Social Security card
- Never say your SSN aloud in public
- Beware of phishing scams (emails, internet links, and phone calls) to trick you into revealing personal information
- Create a my Social Security account to help you keep track of your records and identify any suspicious activity
- Consider adding these blocks to your account with us:
- The eServices block — It prevents anyone, including you, from seeing or changing your personal information on the internet. Once we add the block, you or your representative will need to visit your local field office to request removal of the block.
- The Direct Deposit Fraud Prevention block — This prevents anyone, including you, from enrolling in direct deposit or changing your address or direct deposit information through my Social Security or a financial institution (via auto-enrollment). Once we add the block, you or your representative will need to visit your local field office to request removal of the block or make any future changes to direct deposit or contact information.
Protect yourself from identity theft
Read OIG's Protecting Personal Information for 10 Tips to Protect Personal Information and several actions to take if you suspect identity theft.
If someone uses your Social Security number to obtain credit, loans, telephone accounts, or other goods and services, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC collects complaints about identity theft from those whose identities have been stolen. You may reach the FTC’s identity theft hotline toll free at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) or visit their website at www.ftc.gov/idtheft.
Consider placing a fraud alert on your Social Security number. A fraud alert can make it harder for an identity thief to open more accounts in your name. You can place a fraud alert by contacting one of the three nationwide credit bureaus. The credit bureau will place the alert on your credit report and tell the other two credit bureaus to do so. The alert lasts one year.
How to report fraud
Do you suspect someone of committing fraud, waste, or abuse against Social Security? You can contact the Office of the Inspector General’s fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or submit a report online at https://oig.ssa.gov/.
If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from Social Security, hang up, and then report details of the call to the Office of the Inspector General at https://oig.ssa.gov/.
Our investigations are most successful when you provide as much information as possible about the alleged suspect(s) and/or victim(s) involved. The more you can tell us, the better chance we have of determining whether a crime has been committed. As you fill out a fraud allegation, please include the following about the alleged suspect(s) and/or victim(s):
- Telephone numbers.
- Dates of birth.
- Social Security numbers.
It’s helpful to know facts about the alleged fraud, such as:
- Description of the fraud.
- Location where the fraud took place.
- When the fraud took place.
- How the fraud was committed.
- Why the person committed the fraud (if known).
- Who else has knowledge of the potential violation.
OIG will carefully review your allegation and take appropriate action. However, they cannot provide information regarding the actions taken on any reported allegation. Federal regulations prohibit the disclosure of information contained in law enforcement records, even to the individual making the allegation.
To learn more about reporting fraud, visit OIG’s Reporting Other Issues page. You will find information about Misuse of Social Security Numbers, Elder Abuse, Direct Express Account Fraud, and more.