San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging: Social Security fraud alert from inspector general


By Kay Kaylor

PREVIEW Columnist

At San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA), I have two main part-time roles. I am a lead long-term care ombudsman, advocating for residents in extended care and assisted living residences in the region. I also am a Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor.

Information on the many aging and care concerns will be included here.

Following up from last week’s article, the inspector general from Social Security sent out a fraud advisory Jan. 8 about fake documents from phone scammers. People have reported receiving emails with attached letters and reports that appear to be from Social Security or the Office of the Inspector General. The email letters may have official letterheads and government language to convince victims they are legitimate and to comply with their demands. However, they may have misspellings and grammar errors.

This variation of the widespread phone scams may begin with a robocall or live caller pretending to be a government employee. They may claim your Social Security number, account or benefits have a problem or have been stolen. The caller may threaten arrest or legal action or even offer to increase your benefits, protect your assets or resolve the identity theft. As noted before, they often ask for payment with a gift card, wire transfer, Internet currency (such as Bitcoin) or a prepaid debit card. Thus, the theft cannot be traced or recovered.

As always, Social Security never threatens in this manner, promises benefit increases for payment, requires such payment methods, or sends letters or reports with personal information via email. Instead, Social Security in most cases would mail a letter through the U.S. Postal Service with instructions and payment options and would not ask for a fee or fine paid as described. The Durango office can be called for verification at (888) 472-6115.

Hang up or do not respond to such emails. These scams can be reported online at

SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call 264-0501 or send an email to