Senior Living


Health & Spirit

Social Security and You: Don't Fall for This Latest Social Security Scam

Tom Margenau on

Before I get to today's questions, I must point out a phone scam that is currently going on that involves Social Security. Quite a few readers have reported this scam to me. And then just this week, I was a victim, too. Here is the message that all the readers and I heard on our phones:

"This call is from the Department of Social Security. The reason you have received this phone call from our department is to inform you that we just suspend your Social Security number because we found some suspicious activity. So if you want to know about this case, just press one. Thank you."

There are clues in these kinds of phony communications that let you know right away that they are a scam.

For example, a recent email I allegedly got from my bank told me they were shutting down my checking account because of some "suspicious activity." But the email began with this sentence: "We are regretting to inform you of a problem with your checking account." That awkward sentence structure ("We are regretting to inform you...") was a dead giveaway that the email was a hoax. There is simply no way a large financial institution would have released an email with that kind of sloppy syntax.

Here is another email I received, supposedly from my cable and internet provider: "It is with solemn sadness that we must suspend your cable service because of a problem. Please respond with promptness by clicking here." Come on, guys. "Solemn sadness?" "Promptness?" I knew right away that this email didn't come from my cable company. Instead, I pictured some kid who speaks broken English sitting in a back room of his mother's apartment somewhere in Moscow using an online thesaurus to come up with what he thinks are impressive and legitimate sounding words for fake emails that he sends to unsuspecting Americans.

Anyway, let's get to that alleged message about Social Security. First of all, I can tell you that the Social Security Administration would never call someone in a situation like this. They always would send a letter.


The second giveaway that the message was a hoax was how it referred to SSA. It is known as the Social Security Administration, not the "the department of Social Security." I know that SSA is not a familiar government agency abbreviation like the FBI or the IRS. I mean, if you received a phone call from someone alleging to be from the Federal Department of Investigation or the Internal Revenue Agency, you'd know right away that it was hoax, In the same manner, the "department of Social Security" is a suspicious slip-up.

The third issue with the message is another syntax problem. An official government message would never use the phrase "to inform you that we just suspend your Social Security number..." The proper phrasing would of course be, "just suspended..."

Finally, if you could hear the actual message, you might laugh. It sounds so computerized, very fake and very phony.

So if you get that message on your phone from the "department of Social Security," have a good laugh and then delete it! Now on to today's questions.


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