Social Security Scams: How To Protect Yourself – Community News
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Social Security Scams: How To Protect Yourself

Inside Creative House/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Inside Creative House/Getty Images/iStockphoto

According to the Social Security Administration, scammers do not impersonate government employees. In 2020, the SSA received 718,000 reports of Social Security telephone scams. As a result of that scam, a total of $44.8 million was reported lost, and the average loss per victim was $5,800.

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When you contact a scammer who claims to be with the Social Security Administration, you could be threatened with arrest or other legal action, according to the SSA. Unfortunately, when you find yourself in a stressful and threatening situation, it is easy to react emotionally and fall victim to the demands of a scammer. But that doesn’t have to happen. Instead, here are some tips to help you identify yourself and protect yourself from Social Security scams.

What Happens During a Social Security Scam?

“Scammers targeting seniors on Social Security have two main goals: to get their Social Security number and get cash,” said Chris Orestis, CSA, president of Retirement Genius and a nationally recognized expert on financial, health/LTC and pension issues. “They will often contact people with the message that their Social Security number has been used by someone else in connection with a crime or to falsely request bank accounts and credit cards. They can also contact people who tell them they are entitled to additional payments for things like COVID assistance.

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“The scammers will impersonate the Social Security Administration and may even disguise the number they are calling from with a fake caller ID using the actual Social Security phone number, 1-800-772-1213, but it is very easy to fabricate a caller ID number and (that unsuspecting people kick) for this trick.

“They will call their intended victim and tell them that, for one of these false reasons, their benefits will be stopped unless they can verify their identity by giving them their Social Security number, or they need to verify bank account information. and have the victim read those numbers aloud. They may even tell them to send them a reactivation fee to get their Social Security benefits back on.

Now that you know what happens during a Social Security scam, here are some tips to help protect yourself.

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Hang up

“Social Security phone fraud is common,” said Martha Shedden, RSSA(r), CRPC and president and co-founder of the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts. “My tip is to hang up and not share or verify any information. The Social Security Administration has stated in the past that they will not call you unless you have a pre-scheduled call or specific ongoing business with them. These scammers may sound legit and official but do not trust them. By withholding and hanging information, you protect yourself and your identity.”

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Set up an online account

“The easiest way to avoid Social Security scams is to create an online account with the Social Security Administration,” says Dawn-Marie Joseph, founder of Estate Planning & Preservation. “This is one of the safest ways to communicate and get information to and from Social Security. They have special security questions that only pertain to past life things that you need to answer.

“Every time someone asks you for your Social Security number, you should also be on your guard. It is not necessary to meet their demand for your social security number. Ask them if there is another way to verify your existence.”

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Stay informed about phishing scams

“To prevent identity theft and Social Security scams, stay on top of emerging phishing email scams,” said Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. “A phishing email is designed to trick you into clicking a malicious link or revealing your personal information, such as your Social Security number. It can do this by exciting you with a deal, scaring you with a threat, or impersonating a website or service you trust to claim to confirm information about you.

“To avoid phishing emails that could lead to Social Security scams, don’t just rely on spam filters, look for incorrect spelling in emails, don’t click on links you don’t trust (often with your mouse about a link it links to), and use firewalls on your computer and device’s network settings.

Also, avoid pop-up windows as they often pose as legitimate components of a website, but many of them are phishing attempts to get information from you. A VPN can reduce pop-up ads so you don’t have to worry about accidentally clicking them.”

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Regain your online privacy

“It’s difficult to navigate privacy issues in today’s interconnected and digital world,” said Rob Shavell, CEO of Abine/DeleteMe, an online privacy company that provides services that protect people’s online safety and digital footprint. The ways in which third parties collect data from people are constantly changing, and one way to protect your online privacy and avoid being scammed is to remove your personal information from data brokers, search engines and the Internet and to protect your online privacy and to get back. Scammers can easily use data broker websites like Spokeo, AnyWho or InstantPeopleFinder to carry out their attacks. For just a few dollars, anyone can access your personal information, including phone numbers, addresses, court records, and even lists of your relatives and where they live. So a useful tip is to buy a service that removes your name, email, addresses, and more from online data brokers who profit from collecting and selling this information, such as DeleteMe, or the DIY opt follow out guide to do it for free. ”

What to remember?

According to Orestis, these are important points to remember:

1. Social Security will never ask anyone to verify themselves by reading their Social Security number.
2. Social Security will never ask anyone to verify their bank or credit card information.
3. Social Security will never ask anyone to send money.

According to the Social Security Administration, you can receive a call from the agency, but no one will ever threaten you or threaten to suspend your Social Security number, demand immediate payment from you, or require you to pay with cash, gift cards, prepaid debit cards or wire transfers.

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In limited situations, you may also receive a text or email from the SSA, but only if you’ve opted in to those texts or emails.

If you receive a text, email, or phone call about your Social Security number or account that you find suspicious, call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or use the SSA Scam Reporting Form to report the incident.

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This article originally appeared on Social Security Scams: How To Protect Yourself