A July 24, 2014 National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) news update informs consumers that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is warning consumers that it has discovered “Twitter handles, Facebook pages, websites and apps that look official but aren’t connected to the agency. Some of them are “outright scams to steal your personal information.”
According to the SSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) blog post warning about the problem, the official Twitter handles for the SSA are @SocialSecurity and @TheSSAOIG, but the SSA discovered a look-alike Twitter site @SociSecurity which violated Section 1140 of the Social Security Act. With the SSA, the Office of the Counsel to the Inspector General (OCIG), and Twitter, working together the @SociSecurity account was promptly suspended; unfortunately, others are showing up to take its place.
The SSAOIG blog post also warned about another look-alike case involving a Social Security Disability Facebook page that used an official-looking emblem and was classified as a “Government Website.” It is no longer classified as a “Government Website,” and no longer displays the emblem. Still other look-alike cases involve mobile apps developed by third parties that appear to be connected to the SSA. The SSAOIG is working with Google and Apple to stop the sale of these apps.
The SSAOIG cautions consumers to watch out for “misleading Internet Social Security-related advertisements and communications, including those on social media and mobile apps.”
According to the SSAOIG blog post, Section 1140 Scams include:
*Websites misleadingly designed to appear as SSA’s official website or officially authorized by SSA. They use names—like SocialSecurityHome.com, SocialSecurityAdministration.org, gov-tax.net/ssn-card, or GovSSNrecords.us to mislead consumers into thinking the websites are connected to the SSA.
*Sale of SSA publications, forms, and services otherwise provided free of charge. SSA offers its publications and forms and Social Security-related services free of charge at www.SocialSecurity.gov or www.ssa.gov and at any of their 1,400 field offices. Third parties are only allowed to sell SSA publications and forms and charge for their services if they get SSA permission and follow all prescribed regulations.
*Social Security Disability Representation. Some websites are designed to look official or as if they are authorized by SSA; however, their real purpose is to get consumers’ personal information to generate leads for either attorney or non-attorney Social Security disability advocacy services. The SSA does not endorse Social Security disability advocates.
*Email Phishing Scams. There have been several phishing emails that use the SSA name or emblem to get consumers to open and respond to the email but are designed to steal their email account login ID and password.
*Mailings appearing to be official SSA mailings or authorized by SSA. They ask the consumer to give personal information, but they are just a way for companies to get leads so they can then try to sell you insurance or some other product.
If you receive a suspicious Social Security-related letter or email, you can report it to the OIG through their Fraud Hotline, online at http://oig.ssa.gov/report or by phone Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST, at 800-269-0271.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/evansville.