Identity thieves steal more than $6 million in Social Security benefits

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The Washington Free Beacon reported yesterday that cyber thieves and scam artists have managed to steal over $6 million in benefit payments from retirees and other Social Security beneficiaries.

My Social Security, a program created in 2012 to provide better customer service to Social Service recipients–and allow beneficiaries to create direct deposit accounts for their payments–is the source of this fraud.

Since 2013, beneficiaries have also been able to edit or change their direct deposit information, giving thieves an opportunity to exploit the direct deposit feature by manipulating or tricking beneficiaries into releasing the personal information that would allow these thieves to redirect the payments to themselves.

We recently wrote about the rapid spread of one such identity theft tactic in a previous blog.

Though the Social Security Administration has prevented millions of dollars from being routed to the wrong accounts, about $10.9 million in misrouted payments still made it into the hands of thieves–and only $4.7 million was recovered.

That leaves $6.2 million in the pockets of scammers, and $6.2 million torn away from the beneficiaries to which it belongs.

It is of vital importance that every Social Security beneficiary take precautions to protect their personal information and prevent this kind of fraud before it happens.

Be extremely vigilant about who may have access to your personal information and to whom you are giving that information. With many identity thieves going to great lengths to impersonate government employees or bureaus by phone, mail, and email, be sure that you can authenticate the identity of anyone contacting you for this information BEFORE you share it. All a scammer needs to edit your direct deposit information is your Social Security number, your birth date, the names of your family members, and your financial information.

If you suspect you’ve been contacted by someone looking obtain your personal information related to your Social Security, please contact the Social Security Administration via their toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213. You will be asked to provide:

  • The caller’s “name”
  • The caller’s telephone number
  • The time and date of the call
  • The information requested by the caller
  • And any other information that may identify the caller or clarify the content of the call

Feds: no, you can’t pay outstanding debts using your Social Security number

The Department of the Treasury would like you to know, despite what some YouTube personalities are saying, you can’t use your Social Security number to pay your utility bills.

A new fraudulent Social Security claim is making the rounds on the internet: need to pay off some outstanding debt?  Simply enter your Social Security number as the account number–or  the routing numbers of federal reserve banks featured on your Social Security card–and it will unlock the secret “trust account” the government has set up in every individual’s name.

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Sounds awfully nice, but just a quick question: when it’s no secret the Trust Fund is set to deplete by 2034, can we really believe that we’ve all got secret individual “trust accounts”  attached to our Social Security numbers–AND that they’re flush with cash?

We hate to break it to you, but saying this one’s “a little too good to be true” is an understatement.

There are no such secret accounts.  And for what it’s worth, it’s probably not a great idea to listen to someone claiming something like this “totally works, 100%” in nearly the same breath as they say “if it doesn’t work, it’s not because it isn’t true.”

Hmm…

So if you decide to try it for yourself?  Be prepared to pay the price.  This scam has become so popular that banks and government bureaus are warning employees to be on the look-out for these attempts.  Anyone pulling this stunt can expect a swift non-sufficient fund (NSF) return and any NSF fees that may apply.

But it’s probably best if you just don’t fall for this one.

 

 

 

The Seniors Center President: “Social Security tax money should pay for Social Security…”

On Wednesday, The Seniors Center’s press release announced their nationwide petition drive to ask President Donald Trump to sign two Executive Orders preventing Social Security funds being used for anything but paying retirees’ benefits.

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Dan Perrin, President of The Seniors Center, believes America’s seniors can no longer tolerate year after year of inadequate Social Security payments–and as we rapidly approach the day payroll taxes will no longer cover the cost of scheduled benefits, that it’s critical we reserve every penny for beneficiaries and beneficiaries only:

Social Security tax money should pay for Social Security, and not be spent on other things.  Current Social Security taxes do not cover the cost of benefits, and it’s crucial that the Treasury repay.

The Seniors Center’s Save Social Security Petition asks President Trump to use his Executive Order to legally ensure Social Security income will be used strictly to pay the benefits of Social Security beneficiaries, and prevent Congress from using surpluses contained in the Trust Fund for general spending.

To read the complete press release and sign the Save Social Security Petition, visit theseniors.center right here.

 

“Congress cannot continue to kick this can down the road much longer.”

Ann Davis said in the Idaho State Journal:  “Congress cannot continue to kick this can down the road much longer.”  The Seniors Center agrees on TheSeniors.Center website.  But Dan wonders if Davis is being too optimistic with her belief that “Surely the government will pay its debt to Social Security, just as it is obligated to pay all its creditors.”

Protect yourself from scams targeting Social Security beneficiaries

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In the past several months, phone scams targeting seniors and Social Security beneficiaries have been on the rise.

The Social Security Administration has been hard at work spreading the word about the most recent ploy to trick seniors into giving up their Social Security numbers over the phone.  Typically calling from the 323 area code, these scammers fraudulently impersonate Social Security Administration employees and tell their victims that they’re due a cost-of-living increase or some other kind of Social Security payment.

To “verify” the beneficiary’s identity, they ask for a Social Security number, full name, date of birth, and the names of family members.

…But why would the Social Security Administration have to ask for your full Social Security number?  Shouldn’t they already know that?

In reality, the caller is attempting to gain enough of a senior’s personal information to call the REAL Social Security Administration and alter critical information about that beneficiary’s account–including changing his direct deposit, telephone, and mailing information.

But this is only one of many ways scam artists prey on seniors in order to steal their benefits or their identities.

Luckily, preventing yourself from becoming one more of their many victims is very easy if you take a few simple precautions and learn to recognize the red flags of a scam.

Check out our new page on how you can protect yourself from Social Security scams–and what you should do if you think you’ve been targeted.