In 2018, the Office of Inspector General received more than 192,000 allegations of Social Security-related fraud or misuse, according to the OIG’s quarterly report.
With scammers coming up with more elaborate ways to get benefits, people are looking for ways to protect their money.
Here’s how you can protect your benefits and personal information, according to the OIG:
1) Always protect your Social Security number and keep your card in a safe place at home.
2) Never give out personal information over the phone or in an email. Social Security may contact you, but will have your information in their records and will not ask for it.
3) Confirm the identity of the person contacting you. Call your local Social Security office or 1-800-772-1213 to make sure they’re with Social Security.
4) Shred any paper that has your personal information, including your name, date of birth and Social Security number.
5) Check your financial accounts on a regular basis for suspicious transactions.
6) Request a free credit report from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union every year.
7) Install and update strong anti-virus software on all computers.
8) Make sure your passwords are not easy for others to guess.
9) Never click on a link sent in an unsolicited email or text. Type in the web address on your own and only provide information to websites you trust.
10) Do not believe calls, texts or emails that say you need to pay to collect lottery winnings or fix an issue with the government.
11) Stay updated on current scams by visiting oig.ssa.gov/newsroom/scan-awareness.
If you think that your personal information or identity has been stolen, call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338) or visit www.identitytheft.gov.