Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee, is warning older Americans of ongoing scam attempts involving criminals posing as Social Security Administration (SSA) employees. The Social Security impersonation scam was the most common fraud reported to the Committee’s Fraud Hotline in 2019 and continues to be among the top-reported scams.
One Maine resident recently reported receiving a call from someone who alleged to be from the Social Security Administration. The fraudster then claimed that there was a warrant attached to the individual’s name and Social Security number and the warrant would be served the following day unless a signature was provided. The Mainer was then told that failure to appear at the local sheriff’s department would result in prosecution as well as suspension of Social Security benefits. To remedy the situation, the individual was then instructed to call the Social Security Administration at the number provided by the scammer.
“The criminals impersonating Social Security employees not only seek to steal seniors’ personal information and hard-earned savings, but they also make it harder for the Social Security Administration to provide needed services to the public. Putting a stop to these ruthless scams is one of my top priorities as the Chairman of the Aging Committee” said Senator Collins. “If you are contacted by these Social Security imposters, please report it to my Committee’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.”
According to the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, the Social Security Administration will never:
· Call to threaten you with arrest or legal action if you do not immediately pay a debt, fine, or fee.
· Tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended, or offer to increase your benefits or resolve identity theft problems in exchange for payment.
· Require payment via retail gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, or Internet currency or by mailing cash.
· Demand secrecy in handling a Social Security-related problem, or tell you to make up a story to tell your friends, family, or retail or bank employees.
· Send you an unsolicited text to tell you about a problem with your Social Security number or benefits.
· Email you attached documents containing your personally identifiable information.
In January, Senator Collins chaired a hearing on the Social Security scam, the 25th hearing the Aging Committee has held in the past seven years to examine scams affecting older Americans.
Senator Collins also led letters to the Social Security Administration, SSA Office of the Inspector General, Federal Trade Commission, and the Elder Justice Coordinating Council to request information about the steps these agencies are taking to address the Social Security scam and to urge agency leaders to take action to protect seniors.
Under Senator Collins’ leadership, the Aging Committee developed the annual Fraud Book, which details the top 10 scams reported to the Committee’s Fraud Hotline. The Fraud Book helps to raise awareness of elder financial fraud and educate seniors and their families about the most common scams.