Georges Story: The Social Security Scam That Almost Ruined My Retirement
I turned 66 this past March. I had been counting down to that daymy retirementon my kitchen calendar for the last year. This was the year Id finally start receiving 100% of my Social Security benefits. This was the year I would finally get to put my feet up and start enjoying my retirement. And yet, what was supposed to be the best year of the rest of my life started terribly.
I was one of the many citizens that has fallen victim to a Social Security scam. I am sharing my story, with the hope of preventing this from happening to anyone else.
It was mid afternoon on a Sunday, and I was sitting in my living room checking my personal email. I had an email flagged as Important with the subject A Dispute Regarding Your Social Security Benefits. It looked completely legitimate, and of course concerned me. It had a government header, and read like a proper government email. It was well formatted and grammatically correct. It didnt look like any of the sketchy Nigerian wire transfer emails, or the threatening scams people receive from governmental imposters
On top of that, within ten minutes of receiving the email, I received a voicemail, and then a call. I looked at my caller ID, which said Social Security Administration. At this point, I knew it was urgent. I was quick to pick it up.
I was shocked. Ive heard about Social Security phone call scams and email frauds a million times over the years But I never thought I could become a victim of such fraud.
Social Security Suspension: How To Avoid The Scam
Be aware that the SSA never schedules home visits and does not call citizens at home so beware of the Social Security Suspension scam. The legitimate organization only operates out of its offices and via snail mail. If you receive a call such as this, you should contact the authorities and advise them on what was said.
Telephone scams are as old as the telephone itself be wary of ever giving too much personal information to anyone over the phone.
Last but not least, beware of these 3 Social Security Benefits Status scams.
Review Of The Tucson Social Security Office 3808 N 1st Ave Office
Somebody called me today saying he was a SSA Agent but he was a fraud guy he made up a story that somebody stole my identify and commited crime in the state of Texas, he got some information from me.I called REAL Social Security Administration Office and they told me that it was a fraud.The guy who called me :Name: James KleinID# SSO9862Case# DC7010Called me from # 253 5385Please Social Security Administration Office People If you call that number he is going to answer saying “Social Security Administration” please do something about it.He is going to be doing fraud again and again.Please call that number and do whatever you need to do to stop this scammer.PLEASE.
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Contacting Social Security By Phone
The website is a great place to start, but sometimes the information provided may not seem to address your situation or answer your particular question. So your next step might be to call. Since Social Security doesnt publish the phone numbers of most local offices, you likely have to call the main number at 1-800-772-1213. Even if you have the number of your local office, you’ll probably want to start with the SSAs automated system.
If you call, you can perform many services through the automated system, including requesting a benefit verification letter and/or statement of your benefits, inquiring about the status of a claim, applying for a replacement card, finding the address of your local office, and conducting some business related to Medicare.
If the automated system isnt enough, you can speak to a representative between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Social Security Administration provides interpreters free of charge. You can call 800-772-1213 to speak with an interpreter who speaks Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Farsi, French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, or Vietnamese. You can also schedule in-person appointments, during which time the Social Security Administration office will arrange for an interpreter.
Social Security Administration Call Scam: How To Report
Make your family and friends aware of the Social Security Administration Call Scam by sharing it on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
How to protect yourself more:
If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. Youll receive periodical emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.
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How To Protect Yourself From Social Security Fraud
As with all scams, the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to stay vigilant. If you receive a phone call asking for your Social Security number or other personal information, its best to hang up immediately. You may also want to consider adding the callers phone number to a blocked-call list to help prevent repeated nuisance calls.
Be aware, however, that spoofing allows scammers to use a succession of misleading numbers. So, unfortunately, blocking the first number that called you doesn’t stop further calls from different phone numbers.
Be sure that your information, including your Social Security card, is stored securely. Shred any documents with sensitive information rather than just putting them in the trash. If you access Social Security information online, keep your password to yourself and change it regularly to minimize the likelihood of your account being hacked.
It’s also worth checking your credit reports on a regular basis to make sure no one has compromised your financial information. A paid might also be helpful. Finally, try to keep up to date with the latest Social Security scams. The SSAs Office of the Inspector General monitors these and issues warnings as new schemes arise.
You Can Check Whether A Social Security Call Is Legit
I eventually hung up, but I did fret for the rest of the day: about whether the call had been real, whether I’d given too much information, whether I should be picking up the number’s repeated follow-up calls.
When I searched on Twitter, I saw that I wasn’t alone. People were getting similar calls about their Social Security numbers being suspended in California, North Carolina, Kansas and more. But, as the Federal Trade Commission pointed out in a recent blog post, Social Security numbers don’t get suspended. You should never tell any random caller your Social Security, bank account, credit card or debit card number.
Here’s a good general rule of thumb: The government does not randomly call people. They don’t ask for money over the phone, they don’t give grants over the phone, and they certainly don’t threaten you over the phone.
If you, like me, are not totally sure whether a call is fake, Berryhill says “you can always get the callers information, hang up, and contact the official phone number of the business or agency the caller claims to represent.” In the Social Security Administration’s case, that’s 1-800-772-1213.
How To Stop Social Security Check Payments
The SSA can not pay benefits for the month of a recipients death. That means if the person died in July, the check received in August must be returned. Find out how to return a check to the SSA.
If the payment is by direct deposit, notify the financial institution as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death. For more about the requirement to return benefits for the month of a beneficiarys death, see the top of page 11 of this SSA publication.
Family members may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits when a person getting benefits dies. Visit the SSA’s Survivors Benefits page to learn more.
What To Do If You Were Scammed
If you suspect you may be the victim of fraud or have been tricked into giving personal or financial information, contact your local police service.
If your social insurance number has been stolen, you should contact Service Canada at 1-866-274-6627. For more information, see Social Insurance Number .
You should contact the CRA if you:
- think your CRA user ID or the password you use in personal dealings with the CRA has been compromised.
- want to disable online access to your information on the CRA login services.
- want to re-activate online access to your information after it has been disabled.
If the CRA has confirmed that a taxpayer’s information has been compromised, the Agency will act to prevent the fraudulent use of the information involving systems and processes for which the CRA is responsible.
If you have had your account compromised and are unable to comply with your tax obligations, you may be eligible for taxpayer relief or any resulting interest or penalties. To submit your request for relief, please complete Form RC4288, Request for Taxpayer Relief – Cancel or Waive Penalties or Interest.
How To Protect Yourself From Social Security Phone Call Scammers
SSA will never call to threaten your benefits, suspend your SSN, or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer.
As a general rule, never give your social security number, account numbers, or birth date to anyone who calls you on the phone. If someone calls requesting this information, immediately hang up. If in doubt, you can then directly call the SSA office to check your account.
Report The Death Of A Social Security Or Medicare Beneficiary
You must report the death of a family member receiving Social Security or Medicare benefits. The Social Security Administration processes death reports for both. Find out how you can report a death and how to cancel benefit payments. In addition to canceling SSA and Medicare benefits, find out what other benefits and accounts you should cancel.
Also Check: How And When To Sign Up For Social Security
Will Social Security Call You How To Protect Yourself From Fraud
You can be a victim of identity theft or fraud at any age, but Medicare recipients can be especially vulnerable to people who want to steal money or personal information. Medicare fraud is a huge expense, and those costs become a burden to Medicare recipients through higher health care costs and taxes. With this in mind, Medicare is constantly working to prevent fraud and protect its recipients and providers, but they cant do it alone. By understanding your rights and what to expect from Social Security and Medicare, you can protect yourself against fraud.
Does Social Security Ever Call You?One of the easiest ways for scam artists to get personal information from you is by calling and asking for it. Innovative technology has made it easier than ever for people to disguise their true identities. Robo-calls claiming to be from Social Security use special software to mask their true phone number and, instead, make sure the official phone number for the Social Security Administration shows up in your caller ID.
Dont be tricked into giving callers information, hang up the phone and call the SSA back directly. The Social Security Administration may contact you by phone, but they do so only for customer service purposes, NOT to request personal information or to demand payments of any sort.
Keeping Yourself Protected From Social Security Scams And Identity Theft
What happened to George is terrible. And unfortunately, while these stories often go untold , the story is all too common. It can very well happen to anyoneno matter how expensive your antivirus software is, or how much you believe you would never fall for that.
But there are steps you can take to keep yourself protected. First, you must remember the golden rule of scams. Stay extra vigilant, and never give out personal or financial information to someone you dont know by internet or phone.
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Make Payments To The Federal Government
Learn how to use Pay.gov to make secure, electronic payments to government agencies from your checking or savings account. You can use the online service for VA medical care copayments, U.S. district court tickets, U.S. Coast Guard merchant mariner user fee payments, and more.
If you need help, contact Pay.gov customer service.
I Was A Victim Of A Social Security Scam
Cyber attacks have been on the rise with the looming uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. That means our personal information is now more at-risk than ever. Predatory hackers seek to take advantage of vulnerable groups, including soon-to-be retirees and seniors citizens, by exploiting confusion, uncertainty, and anxiety.
One of our users, who we will call George here, recently wrote in about a terrible scam that happened on the eve of his long-awaited retirement. He volunteered to share his story here, in the hopes that it would help others to protect themselves and their retirement savings.
When In Doubt Ask Yourself
- Why is the caller pressuring me to act immediately? Am I certain the caller is a CRA employee?
- Did I file my tax return on time? Have I received a notice of assessment or reassessment saying I owe tax?
- Have I received written communication from the CRA by email or mail about the subject of the call?
- Does the CRA have my most recent contact information, such as my email and address?
- Is the caller asking for information I would not give in my tax return or that is not related to the money I owe the CRA?
- Did I recently send a request to change my business number information?
- Do I have an instalment payment due soon?
- Have I received a statement of account about a government program I owe money to, such as employment insurance or Canada Student Loans?
If you do have a debt with the CRA and can’t pay in full, take action right away. For more information, go to When you owe money collections at the CRA.
You Can Help The Government Crack Down
Social Security scam calls are a real problem: More than 35,000 people complained about them last year, according to the FTC. They lost $10 million, some of it in gift card codes that scammers requested to prevent the alleged seizure of victims’ bank accounts.
Luckily, I didn’t lose anything, but I don’t want this trend to continue. If you get a scam call and you, too, want to help out, you should report the fraud to the Office of the Inspector General.
You can do it online, via mail, on the phone or over fax. The office will ask for description of the fraud, so having the caller’s alleged name, number, information requested and the time and date of the call is helpful. The office will also ask for your contact information, but you can remain anonymous.
As for me, I’ve mostly calmed down about my own call and learned a lot. Now, I finally can think about The Bachelor in peace.
Don’t Miss: Silverdale Social Security Office
Social Security Fraud By Mail
While the rise of scams perpetrated electronically, and thus cheaply, has reduced the volume of Social Security fraud by mail, the practice has not entirely vanished. One such scheme is a direct mail scam that primarily targets older people
A letter comes in the mail offering an extra check, along with a form asking for personal information and a filing fee. In it, the scammer asks the recipient for a Social Security number, money, and/or bank account information to help with the application.
Again, this is a red flag. The Social Security Administration will never ask for your full Social Security number, because it already knows it. In the event the SSA does send you a letterfor example, when your benefits increaseit will never ask you for money or any other personal information.
The Social Security Administration will never ask you for your full Social Security number. It already knows it.
Fraudulent Friendly Service Phone Calls
Another type of scam call attempts to sell to the recipient services the SSA readily provides at no charge. The caller might, for example, offer to provide a new Social Security card, enroll a new family member in the program, or provide a record of Social Security contributions to date, along with the expected future income they will yield.
Dont Fall For These New Social Security Phone Scams
A troubling new report suggests that a dreaded strain of phone scam targeting Social Security numbers is on the rise.
The Social Security phone scam is by far the most common phone scam this year, with an astonishing 23-fold rise in frequency, according to a report from BeenVerified. Spam calls targeting Social Security numbers accounted for a full 10% of all fraudulent calls, according to the study.
Victims wire money, send gift cards, or surrender personal information to the scammers. Last year, this type of fraud cost Americans $19 million, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
But the numbers tell only half the story. While more criminals are targeting Social Security numbers, an equally important question is: How? BeenVerified shared the most common Social Security phone scams exclusively with FORBES. And although there are ways to spot these fraudulent calls, the long-term outlook is as troubling as the report itself.
The rise in Social Security phone scams.
New tactics lure victims into a Social Security phone scam
Scammers know that you’re screening your calls, so they’re resorting to new tactics.
“Scam callers are side-stepping increased consumer awareness about not answering the phone from unknown numbers,” says Justin Lavelle, a spokesman for BeenVerified. “They’re leaving official-sounding voicemails, often with a phone number spoof from a DC-based area code to add some validity to the impostor scam.”