New Testimony Could Keep Social Security from Sending Checks to Bad Guardians

Social Security and guardians
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Many seniors have had their lives upended by unwanted guardianships. Guardians step in when an older adult is no longer able to take care of themselves and ask the courts to appoint them as the person in charge of the senior’s finances, living situation, and overall well-being. While it can sound like a good thing that vulnerable seniors have someone looking out for them, guardianships can sometimes be insidious.

The Problem with For-Profit Guardianships

The Seniors Center Blog has reported on for-profit guardianships in the past. These typically involve a non-family member taking control of the senior’s life. They might take from their bank accounts, intercept Social Security benefits, and place the senior into an unhealthy living situation.

New testimony in Congress this September could make a difference. According to reporting by ThinkAdvisor, a witness who testified in front of Congress is calling on the Social Security administration to share information about guardianships and representative payees, who can receive benefits on someone’s behalf. Because the Social Security administration doesn’t currently share that information, they often continue to pay out benefits to this person even if the state has removed them as the senior’s guardian. It’s time for Congress to take action to protect older Americans.

These vicious attacks on seniors need to stop. The Seniors Center is committed to keeping seniors safe by providing timely information on scams and forms of fraud that target seniors. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and FacebookTwitter and Facebook for more updates!

SSA Inspector General designates March 4, 2021 “Slam the Scam Day”

If you’re planning on visiting CVS, Walmart, or Home Depot today, you might find yourself receiving some valuable anti-scam information from Social Security Administration Commissioner Andrew Saul while you wait to finish your transaction.

That’s because as part of National Consumer Protection Week (February 28-March 6), Social Security Administration Inspector General Gail S. Ennis has designated today the second annual “Slam the Scam Day.”

“Slam the Scam Day” is a national public outreach initiative to inform the public about the growing danger and damage of consumer scams, specifically targeting Social Security scams.

Several major retailers are participating, airing warnings over store audio systems and featuring information on-screen at customer service kiosks.

Additionally, the SSA will be holding a Facebook Live event at 7PM EST discussing Social Security imposter telephone scams, and USA.gov will be hosting a Twitter chat at #SlamtheScamChat starting at 3PM EST.

Last year, the public reported more than 781,000 Social Security scam calls to the SSA.  It is estimated the public lost $44.8 million to these types of scams in 2020.

You can join in on the conversation and protection tips directly from the SSA by using any of the links above to participate in today’s Slam the Scam events.

Equifax breach settlement: check here to see if you’re eligible to file a claim

You probably recall Equifax’s massive scale data breach in 2017.  As many as 147 million Americans’ personal information, including their Social Security numbers, were exposed to cyber criminals and potential identity theft.

Following the breach, Equifax failed to alert consumers their data was vulnerable.  Breach victims had no idea their information was exposed for several months, so they didn’t know to take protective measures to prevent identity theft.

Two years later, the Federal Trade Commission has ordered Equifax to pay as much as a $700 million settlement to those affected by the data breach.

With 147 million Americans affected, YOU have most likely had your personal information exposed in the breach.

By visiting the official Equifax settlement claims website, you can check to confirm that you are one of those affected by the breach and quickly file a claim to be included in the settlement.

We suggest that if you’re affected, you file a claim right away and keep a close eye on your credit report for any suspicious activity in the future.

Don’t worry, says the FTC. Your Social Security number can NEVER be suspended.

 

 

 

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission released an official statement regarding reports of a new phone scam telling targets their Social Security number has been “suspended.”

The caller, impersonating a government official, attempts to trick call recipients into giving up personal information, saying due to some kind of fraud their SSN will need to be reactivated.

In order to reactivate, the caller will press their victim into the classic account “verification” process with which we’ve become so familiar: asking for a ton of sensitive personal details the scammer can use later to steal their victim’s identity.

The key to avoiding this scam is understanding there’s no such thing as Social Security number suspension.  Neither the Social Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, nor any other federal entity with which a scammer might claim to be associated will EVER suspend a Social Security number.  That’s just not how SSNs work.

No matter what a caller might say to you to intimidate you, if you hear that your SSN is suspended, the scam should be dead in the water. 

This one is absolute baloney.

As with any sketchy phone call asking you for personal information like your name, address, bank information, Social Security information, or the names of those close to you, hang up the phone immediately.

Don’t attempt to speak to, argue with, or insult the caller (not only are you giving them more opportunity to manipulate you, but also some phone scammers are known to record your voice so they can use it to authorize charges and changes to your accounts). Just hang up.

Kentucky lawyer pulls off $550 million disability con–the largest Social Security fraud in U.S. history

In 2010, small town Kentucky lawyer Eric Conn was the third-highest-earning disability lawyer in the United States, winning $3.9 million for his clients in their disability claims against the Social Security Administration.

By all appearances, Conn was a virtuoso. He boasted a 99% success rate in getting his clients their disability payments–collecting as much as $6,000 for himself per win. In his advertisements, Conn used the moniker “Mr. Social Security.”

But those were just appearances. While it’s true Conn successfully argued most of his cases, it had nothing to do with skill.

Well, not litigation skills, anyway.

Unbeknownst to his clients, the Social Security Administration, and just about everyone who knew his reputation, Conn was committing the single largest Social Security fraud in history.

His high win rate was purchased from a corrupt Social Security judge willing to approve anything Conn put across his desk in exchange for over a half million dollars in bribes.

For the next seven years, law enforcement built their case against Conn and his accomplice, Judge David Daughtery. While Daughtery plead guilty to multiple felonies regarding his role in the fraud, Conn fled the country to escape imprisonment.

Meanwhile, as many as 1,700 innocent people suddenly lost their Social Security disability payments, which they came to know in time were obtained illegally.

CNBC reports on the mind-boggling scheme, its impact on Conn’s victims, and how those seeking assistance with their own Social Security cases can guard themselves against unscrupulous third party claim representatives.

How a small town lawyer pulled off the biggest Social Security scam in U.S. history and why it could happen again from CNBC.

 

Using your position to steal Social Security money from clients is wrong. Sending a selfie with the money you stole to your ex? That’s just stupid.

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Pro-tip to all would-be criminals out there: the best way to avoid being caught for financial fraud is not assisting in your own investigation.

Charlotte Social Security representative Oliver Montgomery’s job was to help Social Security beneficiaries receive their benefit payments.

Instead, he helped himself to their “missing” money.

Over the course of one year, federal investigators estimate Montgomery stole as much as $37,000 of Social Security money from his clients— all while on the Social Security Administration clock and the taxpayer dime.

Social Security fraud is a lucrative business, but we tend to focus on false claims, identity theft, and family members or caretakers fraudulently collecting the benefits of a sick or deceased family member. We rarely consider Social Security fraud is a crime that can be committed from within just as easily as on the outside.

No one can say how long Montgomery could have abused his position and maintained this theft, but luckily for us, one incredibly stupid decision cut his 12-month side job short.

In an argument over a debt owed to his ex-girlfriend, Montgomery apparently decided it would be a good idea to rub his wealth in her face while refusing to pay the debt.

After she threatened to collect the money in court, he took a picture of himself at his Social Security office desk with a large amount of cash and the text message, “show them that stack on my desk.”

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Well. She did.

Montgomery’s ex-girlfriend contacted federal officials and reported the text. Investigators then concluded Montgomery had been changing his clients’ bank information and redirecting back Social Security payments into his own account.

In another case, he’d altered the release details of a prison inmate to make him eligible for back payments that Montgomery would then redirect to himself.

And he might have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for that pesky selfie…

You know what they say about karma.

Napa County DA: beware of fraudsters filing for your benefits

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In a report Thursday from the Napa Valley Register, Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley confirms multiple Napa County residents reported receiving letters from the Social Security Administration confirming a Social Security benefit claim has been made under their Social Security number.

The problem is none of these residents filed any claims for their benefits yet.

According to Haley, the letters coming from the Administration are unfortunately legitimate–meaning someone somewhere has obtained the personal information necessary to file a claim in these individuals’ names in an attempt to rob them of their benefit payments:

“If you received a letter in the mail from the Social Security Administration (SSA) stating that you filed a claim for Social Security benefits, and you have not filed a claim for benefits, then someone is using your personal identifying information to file a fraudulent claim.”

How this information was obtained isn’t made clear in the report, but as we’ve written numerous times, the ways a would-be Social Security thief could get this information from a victim are practically endless. And sometimes incredibly easy.

Haley warns Napa, California residents to be on the look-out if they receive any communication from the SSA regarding benefit filing if they haven’t yet filed. It may mean their identities have been stolen or sold, as well.

The DA recommends if you see something like this in your mailbox, contact the police, file an identity theft report, and report the suspect theft to the major credit bureaus to prevent further damage to your identity.

You should also contact the Office of the Inspector General at the Social Security Administration right away.