Although the Supplemental Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs provided by Social Security Administration (SSA) offer essential financial and medical assistance, some people and organizations continue to find ways to take advantage of them unfairly and illegally through fraud.
Fraud involves using misrepresentation to get something of value. In the case of SSA programs, fraud occurs when someone misrepresents, conceals, or fails to disclose a material fact or makes a false statement. Material facts are those used to determine eligibility for benefits. Fraud can also include buying or selling Social Security cards, a representative payee misusing benefits, bribing SSA employees, impersonating SSA employees, and filing a claim under another person’s Social Security number.
To combat fraud, Social Security works with local, regional, and national governments, especially the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The OIG investigates fraud allegations and refers cases to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution as federal crimes.
There are things you can do to protect yourself from Social Security fraud as well. The first thing you can do is know how SSA will contact you. While SSA uses a variety of methods, including social media and emails, they will not request financial or personal information this way. If this kind of information is needed, you can initiate the conversation in person at your local SSA office or over the phone with a Social Security representative.
Scammers pretending to be from SSA may call you and try to obtain personal information by threatening you, demanding money from you, saying they will suspend your Social Security number, or promising increases to your benefit amount or additional assistance in exchange for paying them money.
If someone calls you, and you have suspicions, hang up the phone. Then contact the OIG and report the details of the call. If you think the call might have been legitimate, but you did not want to take any chances, you can always call your local SSA office and ask them if they actually needed that information.
Additionally, if you suspect someone of committing Social Security fraud, contact the OIG and provide as much information as you can, including names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers, and Social Security numbers. The OIG will also appreciate details about how the fraud was committed, descriptions of the fraud, when the fraud took place, who else may have knowledge of the fraud, and, if you know, why the individual committed the fraud. The OIG will review your allegations, but they will not be able to tell you whether the allegations resulted in prosecution.