Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr., Inspector General of Social Security, is warning citizens about a fraudulent “phishing” scheme that has surfaced recently in Texas. The Social Security Administration (SSA) office in Amarillo has received reports of e-mail messages that falsely claim to be from SSA in an attempt to obtain personal information from Social Security beneficiaries.
Inspector General O’Carroll urges all citizens to take precautions when giving out personal information over the Internet or the telephone. “You should never provide your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or other personal information over the Internet or by telephone unless you are extremely confident of the source to which you are providing the information.”
The e-mail claims to be from SSA with the subject “SSN Validation/REPLY.” The e-mail requests that “all USA citizens and residence [sic]” reply with their full name, date of birth, address, and Social Security number. The e-mail asks that recipients respond immediately and “failure to do this will automatically cancel your SSN info that means you will be restricted from government benefits/job [sic].”
If a person has questions about any correspondence that claims to be from SSA, O’Carroll recommends the individual contact his or her local Social Security office, or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213, to verify the legitimacy of the e-mail, letter, etc. (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.)
Individuals may report suspicious activity involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline at http://oig.ssa.gov, or by phone at 1-800-269-0271. (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call the OIG TTY number at 1-866-501-2101.)
For more information, please contact Jonathan Lasher, OIG’s Assistant Inspector General for External Relations, at (410) 965-2671.