Monday, April 07, 2014
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Don't stress over fraud

By Becky Whitlow,
Social Security district manager in Springfield

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[April 07, 2014]  April is Stress Awareness Month, but one thing that should never cause you stress is doing business with Social Security.

However, if you fall victim to fraud, it can really stress you out, not to mention damage your credit score and wallet. The Social Security staff encourages you to be cautious of suspicious email, letters and phone calls or any time someone asks for your personal information.

Generally, Social Security will not call or email you and ask for your personal information such as your Social Security number or banking information. If someone contacts you and asks for this kind of information and claims to be from Social Security, do not give out your personal information without first contacting Social Security to verify the validity of the request. It could be an identity thief phishing for your personal information. Contact the Social Security toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

Report suspicious calls to the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time or online at, using the "Fraud, Waste or Abuse" link. When making a report, include as many of the following details as possible:

  • Names of the alleged suspects and victims, along with addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

  • Description of the fraud and the location where the fraud took place.

  • When and how the fraud was committed.

  • Why the person committed the fraud (if known).

  • Who else has knowledge of the potential violation.

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America. If you or anyone you know has been the victim of identity theft, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission at, or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261.

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Misleading advertisers may victimize people who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits. Such companies offer Social Security services for a fee, even though the same services are available free of charge directly from Social Security. Especially upsetting are ads that make it appear as though they came directly from a Social Security office. By law, such advertisements must indicate that the company is not affiliated with Social Security.

If you see what you believe is misleading advertising for Social Security services from a company that fails to say it is not affiliated with Social Security, report it at: Office of the Inspector General, Fraud Hotline, Social Security Administration, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235. This goes for advertisements in print, online, or on television or radio. Also, advise your state's attorney general or consumer affairs office and the Better Business Bureau. You can visit the Social Security Office of the Inspector General online at and select the "Fraud, Waste or Abuse" link.

Learn more about identity theft and misleading advertising by reading the publications on these subjects at

You may have enough stress already. Don't get stressed over fraud.

[Text from file received from the Social Security office in Springfield]

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