The current situation with the COVID-19 virus has spawned a new round of scams relating to Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), individuals should not respond to calls, emails or other communications claiming to be from the U.S. Treasury Department, the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, or other government agencies offering COVID-19 related grants or economic impact payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advanced fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards.
Individuals who suspect economic impact payment fraud are encouraged to visit the U.S. Treasury Department website and to report these scams.
According to the Social Security Administration, fraudulent letters have been circulating warning that Social Security benefits will be suspended due to COVID-19 related office closures. The SSA will not suspend or discontinue benefits because the offices are closed to the public. Although all local Social Security Office have been closed since March 17, the Administration is still able to provide critical services. Most business can be conducted online, including the filing of claims for retirement, disability, or Medicare benefits, applying for extra help with Medicare and prescription drugs, and requesting a replacement Medicare card or Social Security card (in most places).
Another opportunistic scam relating to the COVID-19 virus involves testing. Scammers are offering COVID-19 tests of Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal detail, including Medicare information. However, the services are unapproved and illegitimate and are geared at harvesting personal information for monetary benefit.