Slam the Scam Day: How to Spot Government Imposters

February 29, 2024 at 11:57 a.m.

This article is courtesy of the Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration and its Office of the Inspector General (OIG) are partnering once again to raise public awareness about Social Security imposter scams during their fifth annual “Slam the Scam” Day on March 7.

“As public servants, we must use every tool at our disposal to raise awareness and protect the American people against Social Security imposter scams,” said Martin O’Malley, Commissioner of Social Security. “Scammers use fear and deception to scare people out of their critical benefits. We urge everyone to protect their personal information, remain vigilant, do not give money, and report any scam attempts to”

Social Security scams--where fraudsters mislead victims into making cash, gift card, or wire transfer payments to fix alleged Social Security number problems or to avoid arrest--are an ongoing government imposter fraud scheme. Social Security impersonation scams have been one of the most common government imposter scams reported to the Federal Trade Commission. Social Security continues to make concerted efforts to address this issue, through extensive outreach and investigative initiatives.

Criminals use sophisticated tactics to trick potential victims into disclosing personal and financial information. Typically, they use these P’s – Pretend, Prize or Problem, Pressure, and Payment. For example, scammers pretend they are from Social Security in phone calls, texts, emails, and direct messages on social media, and claim there is a problem with the person’s Social Security number. The scammer’s caller ID may be spoofed to look like a legitimate government number. Scammers may also send fake documents to pressure people into complying with demands for information or money. Other common tactics include citing “badge numbers,” using fraudulent Social Security letterhead, and creating imposter social media pages to target individuals for payment or personal information.

“On our fifth National Slam the Scam Day, we are just as committed as we were in 2020. The scammers have not stopped, and we will not stop in our commitment to increase public awareness of these pervasive scams,” said Gail S. Ennis, Inspector General for SSA. “We are grateful for the many partnerships we have formed over the last 5 years in support of this initiative and the collaborative efforts that have come forth. We must continue to work together to slam the scam.”

Social Security will never tell you that your Social Security number is suspended; contact you to demand an immediate payment; threaten you with arrest; ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone; request gift cards or cash; or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information or money.

Social Security employees do contact the public by telephone for business purposes. Ordinarily, the agency calls people who have recently applied for a Social Security benefit, are already receiving payments and require an update to their record, or have requested a phone call from the agency. If there is a problem with a person’s Social Security number or record, Social Security will typically mail a letter.

When you suspect you've been contacted by a scammer:

  • Hang up right away or ignore the message.
  • Never provide personal information, money, or gift cards.
  • Report the scam immediately to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at

If you owe money to Social Security, a letter will be mailed with payment options and appeal information. Payments are only accepted electronically through, Online Bill Pay, or by check or money order.

The Social Security Administration will never:

  • Threaten you with arrest or legal action because you don't agree to pay money immediately.
  • Promise a benefit increase in exchange for money.
  • Ask you to send gift cards, prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, internet currency, cryptocurrency, or cash through the U.S. mail.

Scammers continue to evolve and find new ways to steal your money and personal information. Please stay vigilant and help raise awareness about Social Security-related and other government imposter scams. People who have been victim to a scam should not be embarrassed to report if they shared personal financial information or suffered a financial loss. The important thing is to report the scam right away. 

For more information, visit

Together, we can "Slam the Scam!"

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