The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently reported that scammers have taken to email in order to extract private information and money from unsuspecting Social Security beneficiaries. In some cases they may entice someone by offering to increase payments in exchange for information, whilst in other cases they will seek to scare an individual into handing over money with threats of legal action or warnings of identity theft.

The OIG advises that although emails, and the still-common calls, may seem legitimate Social Security staff will never threaten to withhold funds or to suspend anyone’s Social Security Number, and will never require that you provide them with personal information in any kind of exchange be it financial or otherwise.

Sure signs that you have been contacted by a scammer include grammatical or spelling mistakes in emails or the method by which they wish to pay them. If you’re asked to settle a payment through a wire transfer, pre-paid debit card, gift cards, Bitcoins, or simply by handing them a pile of cash you can be sure that you’re in contact with a scammer. Be assured that although Social Security may identify an overpayment they will always send you a letter with detailed instructions and offer payment options that are trackable.

If you feel that you have been contacted by a scammer the OIG encourages you to contact the office at