Beware: Scammers posing as government agencies seek money, financial information

August 30, 2019
Have you gotten a phone call informing you that your Social Security number has been “suspended” because of some suspicious activity? Or maybe you’ve received an official-looking email from the IRS about your tax return?

They may sound urgent, but they're scams.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports a surge in phone calls with an automated message claiming to be from a government agency. Many threaten to cut off Social Security benefits or claim your number has been frozen. Some threaten arrest or legal action if you don’t return their call.
This scam is especially bad because it targets those who rely on Social Security benefits.
This scam is especially bad because it targets those who rely on Social Security benefits, says James Sawyer, state social security administrator for Texas at ERS. We want to spread the word about this fraud to state of Texas retirees and encourage them to share this information with others.

Meanwhile, the IRS is warning about an email scam that prompts people to type in a temporary password to get information about their tax return. Instead, it can give the scammer access to information in your computer. This type of fraud is known as “phishing.”

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is reminding people to never give their Social Security number or any identifying information to an unknown caller. Government employees will never threaten or ask for information or money to protect your Social Security benefits. The IRS never emails taxpayers about the status of refunds or to ask for personal or financial information.

What to do if you get a suspicious phone call or email

Cell phone on table with a question mark.If you get a call from someone asking for your Social Security number or other financial account information, hang up. You can report the caller to the SSA using the Office of the Inspector General fraud-reporting form or the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant

If you think you have a fake email from someone posing as the IRS, go to the IRS’ Report Phishing and Online Scams webpage.

Learn more about the phone scam in this Washington Post article titled “This Social Security scam is just evil.” Read about other types of imposter fraud on the FTC’s Imposter Scams webpage.

Go to the ERS Social Security for State and Local Government webpage for information related to Social Security accounts and other SSA resources.