How to Protect Yourself From Social Security Phishing and Identity Theft Scams

Phishing Alert Spam ButtonYou deserve Social Security disability benefits. You work with the Social Security Administration to make sure that you are treated fairly and that you get the benefits that you’ve earned. The process can be long and frustrating, and, unfortunately, there are risks from outside sources. Specifically, other people may try to scam Social Security disability applicants and recipients, and your personal information may be vulnerable.

The Danger of Phishing

You have to share a lot of personal identification information with the Social Security Administration. Your date of birth, address, Social Security number, bank account number, and other information is valuable to criminals who want to steal your identity to access or open bank or credit accounts.

Social Security phishing scams often appear to come from the Social Security Administration. You may receive a phone call, email, or text message that seems legitimate. However, what you are receiving is an attempt to steal your identity. Criminals may then use this information themselves or sell the information to others. Either way, it is your financial security and credit that is hurt by their illegal actions.

How to Protect Your Personal Information

You can prevent financial catastrophe, countless hours trying to undo the damage, and significant stress by understanding how to protect your personal information.

First, it is important to know that the Social Security Administration will never ask you to send personal information that it already has in its records. Any email, phone call, or text message that requests that information from you should send up a red flag.

While victims of phishing scams are never to blame for someone else’s criminal acts, you can take steps to protect yourself. For example, you can:

  • Look at the sender’s email address. The Social Security Administration will always send emails with addresses that end in .gov. Often, authentic Social Security Administration emails will come from [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected]. Phishers may find a way to use the .gov address, so do not rely on that alone as a mark of authenticity. However, you should use extreme caution before opening anything from the Social Security Administration that does not end in a .gov address. Additionally, any links in a Social Security Administration email will end in .gov.
  • Not reply to anything right away. Stop and look at the email or text and consider whether it is something the Social Security Administration would send. If you have any questions about it, call the Social Security Administration at a number you already have or find on the Social Security Administration’s website and ask whether the message was sent to you.
  • Not click on anything that you are concerned about. It is often the “click here” button that allows the scammer to access your computer, phone, or personal information.
  • Look for poor grammar or broken English. If the communication is from the Social Security Administration, then these mistakes shouldn’t occur.
  • Beware of anything that tells you that it is urgent, that you must act now, or that you face dire consequences. This is not language typically used by the Social Security Administration.
  • Make sure your computer has updated security software. This software may filter out some phishing attempts.
  • Monitor your bank accounts and credit report regularly. That way, you can notify the financial institutions of any suspicious activity, place holds and alerts, and prevent further damage.

If you do receive a phishing scam, then you should not reply to it. You may put yourself at risk. Instead, the Social Security Administration encourages you to report the scam to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) at [email protected].

As Social Security disability lawyers, we want you to do everything possible to get your disability benefits. However, you should never put yourself at risk of identity theft. If you have any questions about how to complete a Social Security disability application safely, please contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.

 

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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