Stephen McGraw, the Acting Deputy Associate Commissioner, Office of Strategic and Digital Communications at the Social Security Administration, offers some tips on how to avoid holiday scams:
Social Security-related scams continue to be widespread, especially during the holidays. Criminals pretending to be from Social Security and other federal government agencies are tricking victims into sending money or sharing personal information. The scam tactics and scripts may vary, but the ultimate goal is to pressure victims to send money using methods such as gift cards or wire transfers.
This holiday season, protect yourself from scams. Be skeptical and cautious of unexpected calls or messages. Criminals are using the names of federal government officials and sending pictures of documents, evidence, federal employee credentials, and law enforcement credentials and badges, to try to prove their legitimacy. They may change the picture or use a different name, agency, or badge number, always with the intent to scam people out of money or personal information.
Ignore suspicious calls, texts or social media messages, emails, and letters.
We will NEVER:
Send pictures of an employee’s official federal government identification.
Suspend your Social Security number.
Threaten you with arrest or other legal action unless you immediately pay a fine or fee.
Require payment by retail gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or cash by mail.
Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
Send “official” letters or reports containing your personal information via email.
We only send automated emails and text messages if you have agreed to receive them from us and only in limited situations, including the following:
When you have subscribed to receive updates and notifications by email or text.
If you owe money to us, you will receive a letter with payment options and appeal rights. We do not accept gift cards, wire transfers, internet or cryptocurrency, or cash by mail.
Please share this message with your family and friends — because scammers never take a holiday break.