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Beware of These Three Social Security Frauds – How to Protect Yourself

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Scammers are making a lot of money in 2022. With the advent of digital payments, inflation relief checks issued by various states throughout the year, and the forthcoming holidays, fraudsters are seeking new ways to defraud people – and they’re getting pretty good at it.

They frequently have your name, address, and even the last four digits of your Social Security number, and they may have a script that sounds extremely real, catching you off guard.

As the year 2023 brings a significant cost-of-living adjustment to Social Security, providing most beneficiaries with an extra $140 per month, as reported by GOBankingRates, scam artists are targeting retirees to take advantage of their extra financial boost as well as potential confusion about the program and eligibility.

According to AARP, the Social Security Office of Inspector General “received approximately 360,000 reports of Social Security impersonators and related scams in 2021.”

While this is a decline from 2020, as cell companies have discovered stronger precautions to protect users, it remains a significant issue. According to AARP, 10% of the 21 billion fraudulent calls T-Mobile tracked last year were linked to Social Security.

In response to the threat, the Social Security Administration has offered instructions to the 66 million Americans who receive benefits on identifying fraud and avoiding fraud.

Dangerous or Alarming Phone Calls

Scammers may easily obtain phone numbers because many contact lists are for sale, and thieves engage in what’s known as a robocall, or an autodialer that phones and delivers a pre-recorded message that appears legitimate.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, they can also engage in spoofing, which involves making the phone number from which they are calling appear to be any number they choose, including an official agency number.

If you do not submit prompt payment, the scammers may threaten legal action, jail you, or suspend your Social Security number. They may pretend that you must contact a different number to process a payment.

Such threats are the first indication that the call is not genuine. Official agents will never use threatening language or make a payment request over the phone.

According to the Social Security Administration, “If you owe money to Social Security, we’ll issue you a letter with payment alternatives and appeal rights.”

We only take payments electronically via Pay.gov, Online Bill Pay, or in person via check or money order at our offices.” It will never ask you to send gift cards, cash, or cryptocurrencies as payment, and it will never accept these kinds of payments.

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Fake Emails Leading to Fake Websites

For many people, phishing has become a major issue. In the instance of Social Security scams, you receive an e-mail that appears authentic, right down to the logo, and directs you to click on a link to what appears to be the official SSA website.

However, doing so grants the fraudster access to personal information stored on her computer without her knowledge. The bogus website may request personal information from you, such as your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number.

The email may include an attachment on what looks to be the SSA’s letterhead, but opening it grants the scammer access to the personal information on your computer.

According to the SSA, it does not request personal information by e-mail, so receiving a message like this should raise a red flag that it is not real.

Furthermore, the SSA only sends e-mails and text messages if you have opted in to receive them for program and service updates. You will never receive a legitimate email or text requesting personal information or requesting a callback.

Protect Yourself from Social Security Scams

A Letter Requesting Action is Required

The Social Security Office of Inspector General has issued a warning to beneficiaries that fraudulent parties have been mailing letters informing them that they must call a toll-free number in order to trigger a benefit increase, such as a COLA.

The SSA, on the other hand, never compels you to take such action; the rise is automatic.

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Tips for Avoiding Scams

The SSA has some additional advice to help you protect yourself. First and foremost, do not return any unknown number’s calls, emails, or texts.

If you have a question about a probable SSA communication, phone the agency immediately, using the number indicated on the SSA.gov website, to check-in.

Before making a huge financial choice or a large purchase, the agency recommends consulting with someone you trust.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, please report it to oig.ssa.gov.

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