- I wanted to share a scam alert recently put out by the SB PD. This was titled, Fraud Targeting Social Security Beneficiaries.
- The Inspector General for the Social Security Administration is warning the public and social security beneficiaries in particular to be aware of fraud schemes that target personal information. As we know, scammers use this personal information to steal our identity and steal our money.
Comment: What would be an example of how scammers might try and trick you into giving out personal information?
- Criminals use phone calls, emails and other methods to get your information. For example, you might get an email supposedly from your bank, saying that the bank has detected possible fraudulent activity on your account, and asking you to click on a link, which then asks you to provide personal information to verify that you are the rightful account holder. And the original email will have your bank’s letterhead, so you might be tricked into thinking this is actually coming from your bank.
- Another thing they are doing here in Santa Barbara is calling and saying that there is a big problem with your social security account and it may be cancelled. You are then instructed to call another number where of course you will be asked for all kinds of personal information to verify your account.
Comment: I can imagine that would be very frightening for a senior to think that their social security is going to be cut off! What do the scammers do with this information?
- I’m guessing a lot of people don’t know this, but we all have the ability to go to the social security administration web site and access our social security information. If a scammer gets your social security number, they can try and open a “My social security account” on that website using your ss number. They can then redirect your social benefits to them!
Comment: How awful! So the victim will stop getting their benefits, and not know what happened! And the benefit are deposited automatically in their account once a month, they might write checks against it thinking the checks will be good!
- Right – So then, they will have bad check fees on top of having no ss.
Comment: What tips do you have to guard against this?
- One thing you can do is activate your own ss account, so the scammers cant.
Comment: So in other words, beat them to it!
- And as we always tell people, never provide your personal information when receiving unsolicited calls of contacts. And if you get a call from someone claiming to be from the SSA, contact the SSA on a number you know to do valid and ask them if they called.
Comment: What should a person do if they become a victim of this scam?
- You should contact SSA right away. They will refer it to the office of the inspector general. The toll free number is 1-800-772-1213. And if you receive an email from SSA telling you that you have opened a “my SS account” and you did not, notify them immediately.
- You can also report suspicious activity to the SS fraud hotline 1-8-269-0271, There is a number for deaf or hearing impaired: 1-866-501-2101