Securing and Protecting Social Security Fraud Allegations

Beyond the Numbers

Date: 
Monday, June 8, 2015
Posted by: 
The Communications Division

If you haven’t heard, reporting Social Security fraud to our office is easy, safe, and secure.

Yes, you can call our Fraud Hotline on the phone, or send us information through the mail, but increasingly, we receive reports online, through this website. But whatever method you choose, we know you want to be sure that nobody else can see it but us.

So when we promote our Social Security Fraud Hotline to the public, SSA employees, Congress, and other Social Security stakeholders, we make sure to emphasize the “secure” part of that message. These days, many people conduct almost all of their personal business online, and expect that their information is safe from hackers or data breaches.

We take data protection and privacy rights seriously, so everything you submit through our website is fully encrypted. (If you click on the Fraud Hotline link above, you’ll see you’re taken to an https page, which signals the page is secure. Pages with no personal information shared or collected might still be simply http.)   

If you’re submitting a fraud allegation to us, that information will come directly to the OIG, it won’t be stolen or hacked, and it will stay with the OIG and any other authorized officials, for investigative purposes only. We understand you might be sending sensitive personal information—like names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers—that could be misused if someone else were to gain access to it.

Also, the information you provide could lead to criminal investigations of people you know or are associated with, so you do have the right to confidentiality and, if requested, anonymity. (However, this could affect our ability to investigate, if our special agents don’t know who to contact for more details or to confirm what you told us.)

We bring this up because the Washington Post recently reported on a review by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which found that some Federal inspectors general websites that solicit fraud allegations don’t use encryption technology. The ALCU said encryption protection is critical for all allegations, especially whistleblower allegations, which we also receive through our Fraud Hotline.  

The article reported that new Federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott is pushing for encryption on all Federal websites within two years. Additionally, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, chairman of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, said he plans to address this issue within the IG community, given the critical nature of whistleblower allegations and the need to protect whistleblowers’ identity and information.

We’re proud to operate a secure—and very productive—Fraud Hotline. Last year, we received about 59,000 fraud allegations through the Fraud Hotline. Our criminal investigators took direct action on about 5,500 of those Hotline allegations, and we referred nearly 16,000 more to SSA for further development. Of the 16,000 referred to SSA, the agency identified almost $2.8 million in overpayments.

We share these numbers a lot, but they’re worth repeating, to show you that your fraud allegations help us improve the integrity of Social Security’s programs.

We encourage you to report fraud, through any channel. You can file online through http://oig.ssa.gov/report; send U.S. Mail to Social Security Fraud Hotline, P.O. Box 17785, Baltimore, MD, 21235; fax (410) 597-0118; or call (800) 269-0271 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.