Be Smart About Scams: What to Watch for During COVID-19
The Social Security Administration has released helpful information on avoiding coronavirus-related scams. The The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a U.S. government agency that administers social programs covering disability, retirement, and survivors' benefits. It was created in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. is warning against fraudulent letters that have been reported which state benefits will decrease or even stop due to COVID-19 closures. It has also been reported that some Medicare beneficiaries are being offered COVID-19 tests in exchange for their personal information. Outlined below are the two main scams being reported to the SSA and how to avoid them.
Discontinuation of Benefits Scam
The Social Security Administration will NOT discontinue or decrease your benefits due to the closures of their local offices. Social Security employees are still working, but their workloads have changed. Scammers are taking advantage of these changes. Beneficiaries have reported receiving letters that state their benefits will be suspended if they do not contact the phone number listed on this false letter. When called, the scammer may try to lure out payments or personal information from the beneficiary. The Social Security Administration stated that any communication you receive, via call, text, email or letter, that says your benefits will be terminated is false.
COVID-19 Tests Scam
Another scam that has arisen from the coronavirus pandemic is scammers offering test kits to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal information. The SSA says these services are illegitimate. Available tests are limited in the United States, and the Social Security Administration will not request personal information from you in exchange for one of the tests.
As the U.S. faces new changes and challenges daily related to COVID-19, the Social Security Administration has provided a list of things they will never do. This list is not extensive nor is it specific to the pandemic, but it is a reminder of how to spot a potential scam. As provided by Inspector General Gail S. Ennis, the Social Security Administration will never:
- Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee
- Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment
- Require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card
- Demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem
- Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.
Staying informed of potential scams is another measure to keep you and your loved ones safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. For complete information and updates on coronavirus and social security benefits, please visit https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/.