SCAMMERS WHO TARGET YOUR
Social Security Benefits
Scammers are always finding new ways to steal your money and personal
information by exploiting your fears. The most effective 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. They may claim your Social Security number is linked to a crime.
They may even threaten to arrest you if you do not comply with their instructions.
Here are three things you should do:
• Hang up right away or do not reply to the email.
• Never give personal information or payment of any kind.
• Report the scam at oig.ssa.gov to immediately notify the law
enforcement team in our Office of the Inspector General.
You should continue to remain vigilant of phone calls when someone says
there’s a problem with your Social Security number or your benefits. If you
owe money to us, we will mail you a letter explaining your rights, payment options,
and information about appealing.
There are a few ways you can identify a scam call or email.
Remember that we 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.
If you do not have ongoing business with our agency, it is unlikely we will
contact you. Again, if you get a suspicious call claiming to be from us or law
enforcement about Social Security, you should hang up and report it right away
to our Office of the Inspector General at oig.ssa.gov.
A NEW—AND FASTER—WAY TO
REQUEST A SOCIAL SECURITY CARD
Do you need an original or replacement Social Security Number card? We
now have a new – and faster – way for you to start online.
When you go to our Social Security Number and Card web page at
http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber, we now ask you a series of questions to
determine whether you can.
• Complete the application process online.
• Start the application process online, then bring any required documents to
your local office to complete the application, typically in less time.
Once you complete your application (online or in-person), we will mail the
card after we process the application. Please understand that we don’t issue
cards at our offices.
Finish your application in the office.
If you need to visit an office, please follow these steps to complete the
1. Learn what types of documents you need to bring to your local office.
2. Print and save the online control number shown once you complete
the online application.
3. Bring the online control number – along with the documents – to your
local office within 45 days to finish your application. Find your local
office using our Office Locator at http://www.ssa.gov/locator
4. Check in at the kiosk when you arrive.
5. Meet with one of our employees to verify the information that you
completed online and review documentation.
That’s it! You’ll receive the card in the mail, usually within 7 – 10 business
We’re continuously expanding our services to put you in control and help you
secure today and tomorrow for you and your family. Please share this information
with your friends and family – and post it on
Change Address/phone number
Online with my Social Security
If you receive Social Security benefits, the easiest way to change your
address and phone number is by creating a personal my Social Security
account at http://www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Once you create your account,
you can update your contact information from your preferred location. This
feature is available for people who receive retirement, survivors, or disability
benefits, along with Medicare enrollees. If you receive Supplemental with
your account. Visit our my Social Security web page to get started. To create
an account, you must:
• Be at least 18 years old.
• Provide a valid email address.
• Have a Social Security number (SSN).
• Provide a U.S. mailing address .
(includes military addresses, APO/FPO/DPO, AE, AP, or AA).
Once you have a valid email address, you are ready to create your
personal my Social Security account. When you visit my Social
Security, select the “Create an Account” button. You will have the
option to create your new my Social Security account with one of our two
credential partners: Login.gov or ID.me.
• Login.gov is the public’s one account for simple, secure, and
private access to participating U.S. government agencies.
• ID.me is a single sign-on provider that meets the U.S. government’s
online identity proofing and authentication requirements.
Please note, if you already have a Login.gov or ID.me account, you can
select the appropriate button to sign in with either one and access your personal
my Social Security account. If you previously verified your identity
with Login.gov or ID.me, you don’t need to do so again. If you don’t have a
Login.gov or ID.me account, please select the “Create an Account” link to
start the one-time registration process.
If you create a new Login.gov credential, we will still complete the
identity verification part, so you will need to provide some personal information
to us. You will also receive an activation code from us to complete the
Remember, you can do much of your business with us online at
Understanding the Need
for a Representative Payee
You may know someone who gets a monthly Social Security benefit or Supplemental
Security Income payment and who also needs help managing their
money. If someone you know needs help, we can appoint a person or an organization
to act as a “representative payee” responsible for receiving and
managing a person’s benefits.
When we assign a representative payee, we select someone who knows the
beneficiary’s needs and can make decisions about how to best use their benefits
for their care and wellbeing. Representative payees are responsible for
completing an annual form to account for the benefit payments they receive
and manage. They must complete this form and return it to Social Security
by mail or, if they have a personal my Social Security account, they can file
it online using the Representative Payee portal. Account holders can get a
benefit verification letter and manage direct deposit and wage reporting for
their beneficiaries. Learn more about the portal at
You also have the option to identify, in advance, up to three individuals you
trust to serve as your future representative payee and help manage your benefits,
if the need arises. We call this Advance Designation. We offer Advance
Designation to capable adults and emancipated minors who are applying for
or already receiving Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income,
or Special Veterans Benefits. With Advance Designation, you and your family
can enjoy peace of mind knowing someone you trust may be appointed to
manage your benefits. Find more information about:
• Advance Designation at http://www.ssa.gov/payee/advance_designation.htm.
• Representative Payees at http://www.ssa.gov/payee.
• Training videos on the duties of a representative payee at
• Publications about representative payees at
If you know someone who needs help managing their monthly benefits,
please consider becoming a representative payee. You can also help by sharing
this information with friends and family.
EXPAND your SOCIAL SECURITY KNOWLEDGE WITH THESE FIVE TERMS...
We strive to explain your benefits using easy-to-understand, plain language. The
Plain Writing Act of 2010 requires federal agencies to communicate information
clearly in a way “the public can understand and use.” This can be particularly challenging
when talking about complicated programs like Social Security, Supplemental
Security Income, and Medicare.
Take a moment to learn a few common Social Security terms and acronyms!
COLA: This stands for “Cost-of-Living Adjustment.” With COLAs, Social Security
and Supplemental Security Income benefits keep pace with inflation. Most years,
your monthly benefit amount will get a COLA, which usually means extra money.
Credits: As you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn credits – previously
called "Quarters of Coverage" – that count toward your eligibility for future Social
Security benefits. You can earn a maximum of four credits each year. Most people
need 40 credits to qualify for benefits. Younger people need fewer credits to qualify
for disability or survivors benefits. For more information, see Social Security Credits
Earnings Record: This is the chronological history of the amount of money you
earned each year during your working lifetime. Your credits remain on your Social
Security earnings record even when you change jobs or have no earnings for a period
of time. Review your earnings record with a personal my Social Security account at
FICA: This stands for "Federal Insurance Contributions Act." It’s the tax withheld
from your wages that funds the Social Security and Medicare programs.
Now, if any of these terms or acronyms comes up in conversation, you can help explain
what they mean. Visit our online glossary at http://www.ssa.gov/agency/glossary to
learn more of our terminology and deepen your understanding of how Social Security
works for you.