INDIANAPOLIS — The Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued a warning this week regarding fake letters that are showing up in mailboxes across the country.
Scammers are using U.S. mail delivery to send letters using fraudulent SSA letterhead.
Typically, the letters advise the Social Security recipient to call a toll-free number to activate an increase in SSA benefits, such as a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
The letters appear to be from an SSA official, however, they are not from the federal government.
“They’re real enough that a social security beneficiary might think that they’re real,” said AJ Monaco, a Special Agent in Charge at the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General. “We know they’re up to no good.”
Monaco told WRTV Investigates scammers know people are catching on to phone scams.
“We will usually send you a letter, and the scammers picked up on that,” Monaco said. “So we are very concerned people will think the letter is legitimate. We are trying to get the word out to let people know that scammers will manipulate communication. Be on your guard all the time."
The scammers are likely looking for a way to steal your money or your personal information.
If you owe money to SSA, they will mail you a letter with your payment options and appeal rights.
“If you get a letter and it doesn’t sound quite right, if your intuition tells you that, you’re probably right,” Monaco said. “The Social Security Administration won’t call you and demand things, but they also won’t send you a letter that’s kind of suspicious.”
COLA is automatic for all SSA beneficiaries and does not require activation.
Beneficiaries can view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.
Scammers may also cite “badge numbers” of law enforcement officers, sending emails with attachments containing real personal information about a fake “investigation,” or phishing for personal information by texting links to click on and “learn more” about a Social Security-related problem.
Visit their website to report Social Security-related scams.
The SSA says it’s a scam if someone:
- Threatens to suspend your Social Security number
- Warns of arrest or legal action
- Demands immediate payment
- Requires payment by gift card, prepaid debit card, Internet currency, or by mailing cash
- Pressures you for personal information (date of birth, SSN or bank account number)
- Requests secrecy
- Threatens to seize your bank account
- Promises to increase your Social Security benefit
- Tries to gain your trust by providing fake “documentation” or false “evidence”
- Makes demands and threats, or requests immediate action.