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Criminals may be coming for your Social Security benefits – here’s how to avoid becoming a victim

Once you retire, you can rely heavily on Social Security to cover your various living expenses. So the last thing you would want to do is jeopardize those benefits in any way, especially if they’re your main source of retirement income.

Unfortunately, seniors are often the target of financial scams, often involving criminals seeking Social Security benefits. If you want to avoid that fate, here’s what you need to know.

What the Social Security Administration Will and Won’t Do?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for sending benefits and from time to time you may receive communications from the SSA. But one thing you should know is that the SSA is not in the habit of calling seniors individually to discuss their benefits or texting them with updates.

Image source: Getty Images.

Instead, if the SSA wants to reach you, it will generally send you a letter in the mail. That letter may include a number you can call to follow up, but in that case, you will on the phone – not the other way around.

It goes without saying that the SSA will not try to reach you by phone (home or mobile), email, or text. The SSA will also not:

  • Threaten to withhold your benefits if you fail to complete a survey or verify information about your bank account or finances
  • Asking you to take a picture of your Social Security card and text or email it
  • Require you to pay a fine or fine to unlock your benefits
  • Insist on transferring money or sending gift cards to unblock your benefits
  • Require you to update your personal information to process your upcoming Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

If you receive an email, call, or SMS where any of these scenarios apply, hang up or delete it. Better yet, report that information to the Inspector General’s office.

What to do when you are there? is a problem with your Social Security benefits

Sometimes a senior on Social Security may run into a snag. It may be that benefits are postponed or that an application for social security is initially rejected. If so, you can definitely contact the SSA at 1 (800) 772-1213. To be clear, it’s okay to talk to a live person about a Social Security issue you have, as long as you’re the one who started the conversation.

In some cases, the SSA may call you back in response to a question you have asked. But in that situation, that first contact will come from you.

What happens if you fall victim to a scam?

If a criminal can get their hands on your Social Security number and bank account information, that person can easily steal your benefits before you have a chance to use them. A criminal can also use your Social Security number to open a credit card account or line of credit in your name and file charges against it. And if you agree to pay a fake fine or penalty to stop your payments, you could lose the money you transfer in such a transaction.

That’s why it’s important to be vigilant about Social Security scams. Knowing what to look for can save you a world of stress and financial setbacks.

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