February 15, 2016

No Phishing Allowed

By Brian of Allsup

The Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of the Inspector General has reported about another SSA email “phishing” scam that has been uncovered.

The scheme could affect anyone receiving Social Security benefits, now or in the future. If you have ever been a victim of identity theft, you understand the frustration that comes when it happens.

Phishing is Internet fraud by attempting to steal personal information such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, user IDs and passwords. Phishing scams may look real, but they are very deceiving, and are designed to steal your money and identity.

Using an imitation of the SSA seal, the email has the subject line, “Verify Your Personal Information with Social Security Administration.” The message asks the recipient to verify their Social Security number to make sure it matches what the SSA has on file. It explains that the verification is necessary because of a “server upgrading, preparation for the Coming 2016 Tax year” [sic]. The message suggests that doing so may lead to higher SSA benefits.

Patrick P. O’Carroll Jr., the SSA’s Inspector General, said there are several variations of this phishing scam that could lead to identity theft or theft of Social Security benefits.

“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,” he said.

O’Carroll added that if you have concerns about any communication that claims to be from the SSA to contact your local SSA office or call the toll-free customer service number at (800) 772-1213. Those with hearing impairments can call the SSA TTY number at (800) 325-0778.

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