Skip to content
Social Security Online
Office of the Inspector General
OIG Seal image
Blank Spacer Image

Fraud Topic Fact Sheets


False Statements on Claims

When applying for Social Security Benefits, individuals state that all information they provide on the forms are true and correct to the best of their knowledge. If a person reports something they know is not true, it may be a crime. For example:

  • An individual indicates on their application that they are not married when in fact they are married or living as such.
  • An applicant claims to be blind and unable to drive a motor vehicle when in fact the individual possesses a valid driver's license and is observed driving.
  • A person indicates they do not have any income, when in fact they make money from an outside source such as rental income or an insurance policy.


Concealing Material Facts or Events that Affect Eligibility for Benefits

It may be considered fraud if a person makes a false statement on an application or does not tell SSA of certain facts that may affect benefits. For example:

  • A person fails to report that they are working or have returned to work.
  • A person fails to report they are in jail.
  • A person fails to notify SSA of the death of a beneficiary and continues to receive and cash the checks of the deceased person.


Misuse of Benefits by a Representative Payee

Sometimes, people who receive Social Security benefits are not able to handle their own financial affairs. In those cases, and after careful investigation, Social Security appoints a relative, friend or another interested party to handle money received from their Social Security matters. That person is called a representative payee. A representative payee can also be an organization, such as a nursing home. (Individuals who have power of attorney over someone does not automatically qualify that person to be a representative payee.)

Representative payees are required by law to use benefits properly. Benefits should first be used for the beneficiary's day-to-day needs of food and shelter. Then, benefits may be used for the beneficiary's personal needs, such as clothing, recreation, and other expenses. Benefits can also be used to pay for medical needs or for care in a residential institution.

Prohibited actions of a Representative Payee

It may be considered fraud if Representative Payees:

  • Use a beneficiary's funds for the representative payee's personal expenses, or spend money in a way that would leave the beneficiary without necessary items or services (housing, food and medical care).
  • Put money received from the Social Security Administration as a representative payee in the representative payee's or another person's account.
  • Keep conserved funds once they are no longer a representative payee for the beneficiary.
  • Charge the beneficiary for services unless authorized by the Social Security Administration to do so.


Buying or Selling Social Security Cards or SSA Information

If you become aware of any of the situations below, please contact the OIG Fraud Hotline:

  • Buying and selling of counterfeit or legitimate Social Security cards
  • Misuse of a Social Security number by someone to obtain Social Security benefits

Please be prepared to provide as much of the following information as possible:

  • Who is buying/selling the cards? Include as much identifying information as possible; for example name, address, phone numbers, date of birth, Social Security number (both actual and one used illegitimately).
  • Where are the cards being sold?
  • How would someone contact the individual to purchase a counterfeit card?
  • How much do the cards cost? How is payment made?


SSN Misuse Involving People with Links to Terrorist Groups or Activities

The SSA/OIG is committed to protecting the security of our Nation. If you know of anyone or any group misusing SSNs for the purpose of committing terrorist acts, please contact our fraud hotline immediately.


Crimes Involving SSA Employees

As public servants, SSA employees are expected to maintain a high level of integrity when it comes to facilitating the business of the Social Security Administration. As such, SSA/OIG takes seriously any crimes involving SSA employees. For example, is an SSA employee selling Social Security Cards? Is an employee stealing checks from beneficiaries? If you believe an SSA employee is committing these or any other crime against the Social Security Administration, please contact the OIG Fraud Hotline.


Scams Involving the Impersonation of an SSA Employee

We sometimes receive reports where individuals have been contacted by someone pretending to be an SSA employee. The intent of this type of call may be to steal your identity and/or money from your bank accounts. The caller generally asks you for personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth, your mother's maiden name, or your bank or financial account information.

The impersonator may state that "the SSA computers are down" or may refer to enrollment in the Medicare prescription drug program. The intent of this type of call may be to steal your identity and/or money from your bank accounts. You should not provide any of this information to these individuals.

It is possible that an SSA employee may contact you to follow-up on a previous application for SSA/Medicare Part D benefits or to follow-up on other business you initiated with SSA. If you are unsure as to the authenticity of someone who claims to be an SSA employee, please call SSA's toll-free number:

  • 1-800-772-1213 to verify the reason for the contact and the person's identity prior to providing any information to the caller.
If you wish to report a call from someone you suspect is impersonating an SSA employee, please provide us with the following details:

  • Caller's alleged name
  • Caller's telephone number
  • Time and date the call was made
  • Information requested by the caller
  • Other identifying information or details about the content of the call


Bribery of a Social Security Administration Employee

It is illegal for anyone to offer a government employee anything of value, such as money or gifts, in exchange for government services. For example, it is illegal for a person to offer to pay a Social Security employee to approve their application for disability benefits. It is also illegal for a government employee to demand payment for any Social Security services provided. An SSA employee should not charge an individual to provide a Social Security card. If you believe this or any other form of bribery has happened, please contact the Fraud Hotline.


Fraud or Misuse of Grant or Contracting Funds

As a government agency, the SSA oversees hundreds of contracts and grants. The Fraud Hotline processes allegations of fraud, waste, or mismanagement related to contracts and grants. The following are examples of grant or contract fraud:

  • A contractor is using substandard supplies.
  • A contractor has paid or offered to pay an SSA employee in return for winning the contract.

If you believe someone is misusing an SSA grant or contract, please contact us.


Standards of Conduct Violations

Public Service is a public trust. All SSA employees are bound by the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. Violations of this include accepting gifts and/or money from a person doing business with SSA, holding financial interests that conflict with official duties, not obeying any federal, state, or local laws or regulations. If you know of an SSA employee violating these, or anything else you believe to be a standard of conduct issue, please contact us.


Worker's Compensation Fraud

Generally, Social Security disability benefits are reduced for persons who are receiving workers' compensation. If you believe a person receiving Social Security disability has not informed the Social Security Administration (SSA) of the receipt of workers' compensation benefits, call the Social Security fraud hotline toll-free number at 1-800-269-0271 or use our Public Fraud Reporting Form.

Reports of suspected Workers' Compensation fraud by current or former Social Security Administration employees receiving federal Workers' Compensation benefits only should be reported to the SSA WC fraud toll-free number, 1-866-509-0774. This number is specifically designated to receive such complaints.

Top Portal to U.S. government agencies Privacy Policy | Website Policies & Other Important Information | Site Map
Need Larger Text?
  Last reviewed or modified Friday Feb 29, 2008