Scam artists will take any opportunity to find new victims to target, often keeping a close eye on the news to see what new programs or benefits could provide a way to steal. From student loan forgiveness scams to fake IRS calls, fraudsters will exploit any chance to make a profit.
How the 2023 COLA Scam Works
One of the latest developments these scammers are watching closely is the 2023 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). According to an NBC affiliate station in Baton Rouge, the 8.7 percent increase has caused scammers to try to take advantage.
“They can manipulate the system. So, they can actually show Social Security or whatever agency they want you to think, they show up on your caller ID,” notes Carmen Million, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau.
If you receive a call, text, or email from someone claiming to be a representative of Social Security, Medicare, or another agency claiming to be offering you a COLA-related benefit, never give them any personal information. Instead, hang up and contact the agency directly at their official telephone number—or report the scammer to the FTC, who can then investigate.
The Seniors Center Blog
The Seniors Center Blog is here to help retirees stay safe from scams, and we’re constantly updating our site with news on ways that scammers might target people like you. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook today for more updates on scams and other news in the senior community.
The holidays are a time for giving, but unfortunately that also means it’s prime time for fraudsters to target unsuspecting seniors. Social Security Matters recently posted an article on how to protect yourself from imposter fraud during the holidays. It’s important that seniors stay informed and vigilant to ensure their hard-earned savings don’t end up in the hands of a scammer.
How Scam Artists Can Pose as Government Officials
Social Securit Matters reports that some criminals may attempt to pose as government officials. They might call or email pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA), IRS, or other federal agency. These scammers will often try to convince seniors that they are entitled to a tax refund or other payment, but must first provide personal information in order to receive it.
What Seniors Can Do To Stay Safe
The best way for seniors to protect themselves from imposter fraud is to ignore suspicious emails and calls. The SSA, IRS, and other government agencies will never contact you to ask for personal information or for money to be sent in the form of gift cards. These government agencies will send a letter via the mail instead.
Scam calls come in many forms. Scammers might pretend to be a loved one or acquaintance, might use the ruse of an emergency, or might act as a government employee to gain the trust of their marks. One scam that is on the rise in recent months is actually a spin on an older con: acting as a Social Security employee.
How to Spot This Social Security Scam
How does this scam work? The con artists tell their potential victims that someone is trying to open bank accounts in their name. In order to stop this from happening, they’ll say, the victim needs to download an app on their phones. This app will allow the supposed Social Security or IRS employee to remotely access their phone.
By remotely accessing the phone, the scammer can access passwords and accounts. They might ask their victim to transfer money into a different account. According to NBC 2 News, one Florida woman had the scammer ask her to transfer money into Bitcoin—luckily, a fraud alert came up before she was able to complete the transaction.
As 2022 gets underway, retirees across the country are taking a careful look at their finances and making plans for the year. High COLAs for Social Security beneficiaries and new guidelines relating to the COVID-19 pandemic might ease some worries for seniors this year. However, one thing retirees need to keep in mind as they plan for 2022 is how to stay safe from a new senior scam.
How does this scam work? Scammers are targeting Social Security beneficiaries by sending fraudulent letters on official-looking letterheads. According to the Social Security Administration, these letters will ask recipients to call a number to activate their cost-of-living adjustment. However, the SSA cautions that COLAs are automatic. While the scammers might use authentic-sounding names, even the names of real SSA officials, you should be wary of anyone making threats or demands.
What This 2022 Senior Scam Looks Like
What can you do to stay safe? Ignore letters, texts, emails, or calls from anyone who:
Demands your personal information
Threatens to suspend your SSN or seize your bank account
Demands payment, often through gift cards
Have a loved one look over any messaging you find suspicious. And you can report scam attempts to the Social Security Administration so they can investigate.