Slam the Scam Day: Protect Yourself from Social Security Imposter Scams

March 7, 2024
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Attorney General of Oregon, Ellen Rosenblum
In 2023, the Oregon Department of Justice received more complaints about imposter scams than any other scam.

To raise awareness, the Oregon Department of Justice is participating in National “Slam the Scam” Day », a day dedicated to preventing scams that involve individuals pretending to be someone else in order to deceive others, also known as imposter scams.

One of the most common types of government imposter scam involves imposters who call, email, text, write, or message you on social media claiming to be from the Social Security Administration or the Office of the Inspector General. They might use the name of a person who really works there and might send a picture or attachment as “proof.”

“Social Security is a critical safety net for many older adults in the United States. Unfortunately, imposters are constantly devising new ways to exploit this system for their gain, putting your hard-earned retirement savings at risk,” said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. “Imposters use targeted, sophisticated tactics to deceive you into providing sensitive information or money. Don’t fall for it,” said AG Rosenblum.

So how do you know if you’re communicating with an imposter and not a real Social Security employee?

If you hear or read one of the following statements, you’re dealing with an imposter:

  1. “Your Social Security number is suspended.”

    An imposter tells you that your Social Security number is suspended, and they need your personal information to reactivate it.

    Don’t fall for it:
    The government doesn’t suspend Social Security numbers. Fraudsters are after personal information to steal your identity.

  1. “Your benefits are suspended.”

    Fraudsters say your Social Security benefits are suspended. They’ll ask for your Social Security number to verify your identity or say you need to pay a fee to have your benefits reinstated.

    Don’t fall for it: Both scenarios are bogus — the Social Security Administration doesn’t call and ask for your Social Security number or charge you to correct your benefits.

  1. “You can pay to increase your benefits.”

    The imposter says they can increase your benefits for a fee.

    Don’t fall for it: This scam is commonly associated with the Social Security Administration’s annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Imposters offer to apply the COLA if you pay for the service, but that’s unnecessary. The Social Security Administration automatically applies COLA increases to benefits.

  1. “You owe money that has to be paid immediately.”

    An imposter says you owe money for a penalty or as a correction for an overpayment. They may threaten to suspend your benefits, or have you arrested if you don’t pay immediately.

    Don’t fall for it: Scammers often request payment through wire transfers, cryptocurrency, prepaid debit cards, gift cards or by mailing cash – none of which the Social Security Administration accepts. Scammers like these payment methods because they are practically impossible to trace.

Tips to protect yourself:

  • Never give out personal information. The Social Security Administration will never reach out to ask for sensitive information already on file.
  • Investigate unexpected changes in your benefits. If your Social Security benefits decrease unexpectedly, contact the Social Security Administration, and ask why.
  • Check your credit history. Check your credit reports with the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) for signs of identity theft. You can request a free credit report every week at ».

If you have fallen victim to a government imposter scam, be sure to report it to the Oregon Department of Justice online at » or by phone at1-877-877-9392.