Reporting Fraud: Details Make the Difference

Beyond the Numbers

Friday, September 14, 2012
Posted by: 
The Office of External Relations

Today we want to talk even more about fraud reporting, because that is the bread and butter of what we do here.  We can only investigate when something is brought to our attention. Sixty-six million people in this country receive some type of Social Security payment, and only a very small percentage commits benefit fraud. We do our own analysis to try to identify potential fraud, but the best source of information for us is, and always will be, YOU.

We blogged recently about the fraud-reporting process; but now we want to talk about what we look for specifically when you contact us. When it comes to fraud reporting, details are critically important. The more details you can give us, the better the outcome. Simply put, details often make the difference between our being able to follow up on an allegation, and having to close it due to lack of information.  

What type of details are we looking for? Let’s start with the basics.  First, you have to know the person’s or organization’s name, and you have to spell it correctly. If you know a Social Security number, date of birth, or address, that is helpful, because many people have the same exact names. The more specific, the better chance we have to identify the person.

Now let’s talk about the allegation itself. What do you know about the alleged fraud? Do you know when and where it took place? What did the person do that was suspicious? Was anyone else involved, or does anyone else know about it who we might be able to talk to? Do you know why the person committed the fraud?

Of course, you are allowed to submit a report anonymously.  But please realize when you do this, because we won’t be able to contact you if we have questions, it limits our ability to follow up on your report. We might not have all of the information we need to pursue the person, and we may have to close it without taking action. 

Keep in mind that if you give us your name and ask it to be kept confidential, we will do our utmost to protect your identity.  Even if you don’t specifically ask for confidentiality, we are legally prohibited from disclosing your name in most cases.

So, now you are ready to submit a fraud report. I won’t go through all the different methods of doing so, but you can find them here. If you report online and you supply an e-mail address, we will send you an e-mail acknowledgement. However, you may not hear from us after that.  Even though we appreciate every fraud report we receive, and we carefully review each one and take appropriate action, we usually can’t tell you what action we take.  The Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits us from disclosing information to you, the same way it prohibits us from giving anyone else information about you.

If your allegation involves something related to your Social Security benefits, you should also contact the Social Security Administration, either by calling 1-800-772-1213 or visiting your local office, to talk to someone who can help you with your benefit concerns.    

Feel free to comment below, but as always, please don’t put any personal information in the comments.