Defending against scammers who target your Social Security benefits

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Scammers are always finding new ways to steal your money and personal information. The best way to defeat scammers is to know how to identify scams and to ignore suspicious calls and emails.

One common tactic scammers use is posing as federal agents or other law enforcement officials. They may claim your Social Security number is linked to a crime. They may even threaten to arrest you if you do not follow their instructions. Here are three things you should do:

  1. Hang up right away or do not reply to the email.
  2. Never give personal information or payment of any kind.
  3. Report the scam at to immediately notify the law enforcement team in our Office of the Inspector General.

You should continue to remain vigilant if you receive a phone call from someone who claims there’s a problem with your SSN or your benefits. If you owe money to us, we will mail you a letter explaining your rights, payment options, and information about appealing.

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When trying to identify if a call or email is a scam, remember we will never:

  • Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest or other legal action.
  • 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. For more information on scams please visit Please share this information with anyone who may need it.

Q: I applied for Medicare benefits last week. How can I check the status of my application?

A: You can check the application status online with your personal my Social Security account at but you must wait five days from the date you originally filed. If you are unable to check your status online, call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Q: I will rely on Medicare when I retire. Can you explain the different parts of Medicare?

A: The different parts of Medicare cover your specific needs. There are four parts, all of which work in tandem to deliver health care services:

  • Part A (hospital insurance): This helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay), some home health care, and hospice care.
  • Part B (medical insurance): This helps pay for doctors’ and other health care provider services, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and many preventative services (such as screenings, shots or vaccines, and yearly wellness visits).
  • Part C (Medicare Advantage plans): If you have Medicare Parts A and B, you can join a Medicare Advantage plan. Private companies offer Medicare Advantage plans, which are approved by Medicare. These plans generally help you pay the medical costs not covered by Medicare Part A and B.
  • Part D (prescription drug coverage): This helps pay for prescription drugs (including many recommended shots and vaccines).

This column was prepared by the Social Security Administration. For fast answers to specific Social Security questions, contact Social Security toll-free at 800-772-1213 or visit

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