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Inspector General warns of COVID-19 Social Security scam

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The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures, according to a news release. The Social Security Administration will not suspend or discontinue benefits because its offices are closed.

There are reports that Social Security beneficiaries have received letters through the U.S. Postal Service stating their payments will be suspended or discontinued unless they call a phone number referenced in the letter. Scammers may then mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of office closures.

As of Tuesday, March 17, local SSA offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns; however, Social Security employees continue to work. Social Security will not suspend or decrease benefit payments due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Any communication you receive that says SSA will do so is a scam, whether you receive it by letter, text, email or phone call. Social Security 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 problems.

• Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.

If you receive a letter, text, call or email that you believe to be suspicious, about an alleged problem with your Social Security number, account or payments, hang up or do not respond.

We encourage you to report Social Security scams using our dedicated online form, at https://oig.ssa.gov. Please share this information with your friends and family, to help spread awareness about Social Security scams.

For more information, visit oig.ssa.gov/scam.

Twitter: @JamieACIndyNews

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