We all know the risks that come with surfing the internet. Spoofed websites, malicious links and malware are more prevalent than ever. That’s why many people are cautious when handling suspicious correspondence.
After all, more than 80% of emails sent daily are spam. To drive more awareness about spam emails, various government departments often urge users not to open any messages that supposedly come from them.
But that kind of thinking can lead to confusion, as some recipients recently found. Read on for details on a recent email many received allegedly from the Social Security Administration.
Here’s the backstory
Since the invention of email, users have been cautioned about opening potentially harmful emails. Government departments like the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) claim they will never send such communication.
That isn’t entirely true. The message has somewhat twisted over the years, and while the agencies will never ask for payment in an email or over the phone, there can be exceptions to the “never send an email” rule.
Recently, many users received an email that explained how to access Social Security statements online. It looked legitimate and included a link to the agency. Naturally, most would have ignored the message as they didn’t expect an email from SSA.
But in truth, the email did come from the SSA and was sent to legitimate subscribers to the SSA’s official blog. Moreover, the narrative that government agencies won’t ever send emails can confuse and might even deny users vital information.
What you can do about it
Always stay vigilant with online communications and text messages. You never know when a malicious message will show up. Here are some tips on how to stay safe online:
- Government agencies will never ask for money or any form of payment over the phone or in a text message. Messages that request payment in gift cards, cryptocurrency or wire transfers are scams.
- There can be certain circumstances when an agency sends out an email. The best way to determine the authenticity is to carefully examine the sender’s email address and the body text. If there are any links in the email, check that they go where they claim by hovering your mouse over the link.
- In a Scam Alert factsheet, the SSA explains that the agency will never threaten, scare, or pressure you to take immediate action. Instead, the agency urges anyone to report scams to the SSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG).