Some types of social security fraud can be considered criminal activities:
- False statements or claims
- Not disclosing important facts that affect eligibility
- A representative payee not using benefits properly
- Buying or selling Social Security cards or Social Security Administration information
Other kinds of violations can involve:
- Mismanagement and waste of funds
- Standards of conduct violations
The most common type of fraud affects us all: identity theft. This is the theft and misuse of a person?s social security number and other information, which is then usually used to illegally collect benefits. For example, a common recent scam is for con artists to call you over the phone, posing as Social Security Administration employees, and ask for your Social Security Number (SSN).
How Can I Prevent Social Security Fraud?
There are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of being the victim of social security fraud:
- Only give out your social security number when absolutely required. There are many instances, such as online shopping, where you may unnecessarily be asked for your SSN. Ask why they need your SSN. Even then, ask if there is an alternative means of satisfying the other party rather than giving your SSN.
- Pay special attention to your Social Security Personal Earnings and Benefits Estimate Statement. This is mailed to you automatically 3 months before your birthday, but you can also contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) for a free report. If the report looks wrong to you, immediately contact the SSA, as you may be a victim of fraud.
If I Am the Victim of Social Security Fraud, What Should I Do?
You should immediately contact the SSA to report any illegal use of your Social Security number or benefits. When you contact them, the SSA will ask for your:
- Date of Birth
- Telephone number
Keep in mind that while any information you give the SSA will mostly be kept confidential, the SSA may share your information with the FTC in cases of identity theft. Your information, however, will only be used to help you and will not be distributed to any members of the public.
Finally, you may want to contact a government attorney who specializes in civil suits concerning fraud, as you may be able to recoup any losses incurred. Your attorney will be able to advise you of your rights and help you decide the best course of action to take.