FRAUD ADVISORY: Text Phishing Scheme Targeting Disability Applicants and Beneficiaries

FRAUD ADVISORY: Inspector General Warns Public About “Disability Services” Phone Calls
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2016

Social Security Inspector General Patrick P. O’Carroll is warning citizens to be aware of phone calls from unknown people who claim to have information about a citizen’s application for disability benefits and offer assistance with the citizen’s claim. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) received a report from a Maryland citizen who recently received several of these phone calls, even though the citizen had not applied for disability benefits.

The callers appear to be “phishing” for personal information—such as Social Security numbers or personal financial information—from unknowing citizens, who possibly have applied for disability benefits and thus might be inclined to provide information to the caller in furtherance of his or her claim. One person, who had not applied for disability benefits, reported recently receiving three unsolicited calls from a caller named Scott from a phone number with a 301 area code.

There are several variations of this type of phone phishing scam, which could lead to identity theft and/or government benefit theft. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently warned of similar phone calls from people impersonating IRS agents who request information to process a citizen’s tax return.

Therefore, Inspector General O’Carroll urges you to remain vigilant and protect your personal information. O’Carroll states, “You should never provide your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or other personal information by telephone or over the Internet unless you are extremely confident of the source to which you are providing the information.”

If you have questions about any communication—phone call, email, letter, or text—that claims to be from or have a connection to the Social Security Administration, O’Carroll recommends you contact your local Social Security office, or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, to verify its legitimacy. (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.)

You may report suspicious activity or communications involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline at https://oig.ssa.gov/report, or by phone at 1-800-269-0271, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday. (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call the OIG TTY number at 1-866-501-2101.)

For more information, please contact Tracy Lynge, Communications Director, at (410) 965-2671.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2014
Contact: Tracy Lynge
Phone: (410) 965-2671 [Call: (410) 965-2671]

http://oig.ssa.gov

Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr., Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (SSA), is warning the public, and Social Security disability applicants and beneficiaries in particular, about a text phishing scheme that has recently surfaced. Disability law offices in the Greater St. Louis area and Michigan have reported several of their clients have recently received suspicious text messages, requesting them to call a telephone number for information about their Social Security disability benefit claims.

According to these reports, individuals posing as Government officials have sent texts to several Social Security disability applicants and beneficiaries in an attempt to elicit a response—possibly to obtain their personal and financial information.

The text reads: “Disability Alert: Please call 253-xxx-xxxx regarding your recent disability benefits application.”

Inspector General O’Carroll urges everyone to be aware that Social Security will never send you an unsolicited text message about your application for Social Security benefits. Moreover, you should always take precautions when asked to provide personal information. Mr. O’Carroll stated, “You should never provide your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or other personal information unless you are extremely confident about the identity of the person asking for it. Social Security representatives may call to follow up on a benefit application—but they will not send unsolicited text messages—and they generally will not ask for personal identifiers or financial information.”

Please be aware that there are many variations of this type of phishing scheme, which could lead to identity theft or Social Security benefit theft. For more information on identity theft, please click here. You may also contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or 1-877-ID-THEFT [Call: 1-877-ID-THEFT] for additional information or to report identity theft.

If you receive a text message, e-mail, or phone call from anyone claiming to be from a government agency and requesting personal information, Mr. O’Carroll recommends that you contact the agency directly to verify the employee’s identity. For the Social Security Administration, you may contact your local Social Security office, or call Social Security’s toll-free customer service number at 1-800-772-1213 [Call: 1-800-772-1213] , to verify the employee’s identity and the information request. (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778 [Call: 1-800-325-0778] .)

Also, you may report suspicious activity involving Social Security programs and operations to the Social Security Fraud Hotline at http://oig.ssa.gov/report, or by phone at 1-800-269-0271 [Call: 1-800-269-0271] , 10 am to 4 pm Eastern Time. (Those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call TTY 1-866-501-2101 [Call: 1-866-501-2101] .)

For more information, please contact Tracy Lynge, Communications Director, at (410) 965-2671 [Call: (410) 965-2671] .

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