A message from Social Security
We are committed to preventing, detecting, and eliminating fraud in our programs. It’s necessary for you and your loved ones to always stay vigilant and know how to protect yourself from Social Security-related fraud.
Our mission is to deliver services that meet the changing needs of the public. Every day our employees diligently work to ensure our customers receive the services and benefits they deserve. Despite the efforts of those who seek to abuse our programs, we strive to provide a high level of service to the public.
What is Social Security fraud?
Fraud involves obtaining something of value through willful misrepresentation. In the context of our programs, fraud exists when a person fails to disclose a material fact for use in getting benefits and payments. Information is “material” when it could influence our determination on entitlement or eligibility to benefits under the Social Security 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
Be alert! It is important to be aware of scammers pretending to be from Social Security. Reports about fraudulent phone calls from people claiming to be from our agency continue to increase. To learn more about scams, visit Protect Yourself from Social Security Scams.
Social Security combats fraud
Social Security has zero tolerance for fraud. We diligently work at the national, regional, and local levels to combat fraud that undermines our mission to serve the American public.
To meet this challenge, we work closely with our Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which investigates allegations of fraud and seeks to bring offenders to justice. The OIG refers cases to U.S. attorneys within the Department of Justice, and other state and local prosecuting authorities, for prosecution as federal crimes.
Measures you can take to prevent identity theft
Identity theft happens when a person illegally uses your personal information to commit fraud. Someone illegally using your SSN and assuming your identity can cause a lot of problems.
There are several things you should do to prevent identity theft:
- Do not routinely carry your SSN.
- Never say your SSN aloud in public.
- Beware of phishing scams (emails, internet links, and phone calls) trying to trick you into revealing personal information.
- Create a personal 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 — This prevents anyone, including you, from seeing or changing your personal information online. Once we add the block, you or your representative will need to contact your local 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 contact your local office to request removal of the block. You will need to do the same to make any future changes to direct deposit or contact information.
- Visit If You Want Extra Security to get information regarding extra security.
Protect yourself from identity theft
The OIG provides 10 tips on Protecting Personal Information and details several actions to take if you suspect identity theft.
If someone uses your SSN 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.
How to report fraud
Do you suspect someone of committing fraud, waste, or abuse against Social Security? You can contact the OIG’s fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or submit a report online at oig.ssa.gov.
Our investigations are most successful when you provide as much information as possible about the alleged suspect(s) and 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 victim(s):
- Telephone numbers.
- Dates of birth.
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).
- Anyone else who has knowledge of the potential violation.
The 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 person making the allegation.
To learn more about reporting fraud, visit the OIG’s Resources for Other Types of Fraud page. You will find information about misuse of SSNs, elder abuse, Direct Express accounts, fraud, and more. Also, watch their video “How to Report Social Security Fraud” for more details about the fraud referral process.