Federal Employees News Digest

SSA field offices staff slammed with scam complaints

Senior citizens concerned that they’re being tricked out of their Social Security benefits by scammers impersonating government employees are flooding agency phone lines and offices.

The scammers call beneficiaries, telling them there has been identity theft or some other problem with their Social Security number, account or benefits. To resolve the fictional issue, the scammers often demand payment by retail gift cards, wire transfers, prepaid debit cards, internet currency or cash.

These “imposter scams” have increased so much that they were the top fraud scheme in 2019, according to the Federal Trade Commission.  The Social Security Administration estimated that its 800-number fielded about 854,000 scam-related calls in 2019, a ten-fold increase over the prior fiscal year, the SSA Inspector General’s Office found in a May report.

The increased call volume and office visits related to resolving scams diverted staff from handling their normal tasks, such as adjudicating Social Security benefit claims and handling Supplemental Security Income applications and post-entitlement issues. SSA estimated it spent over 100 workyears in FY 2019 on these and other scam-related activities at a cost of $8.4 million, the IG report said.

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