On Protecting Yourself From Social Security Scams
May 26, 2022
Scammers thrive in today’s information-driven world. Identity thieves can be very creative in how they acquire your account numbers, addresses, and other private information. As an Elder Law lawyer, I have seen the toll that it takes on a person who has had their identity stolen.
As I said before, scammers get creative when attempting to steal your identity. For example, a common gimmick is to call seniors for a “Social Security Number Verification.” To clarify, let’s observe this conversation between Jennifer--a woman of 65--and a scammer posing as a government employee:
*Jennifer’s phone rings, and she answers*
Scammer: Hello, this is Adam from the Social Security Administration. It is time for your annual cost-of-living adjustment increase in benefits. If you can answer a few questions, I can complete your application right now.
Jennifer: Okay. Thanks for the help.
Scammer: Oh, no problem at all! What is your social security number?
Scammer: Thank you! Now, what is your full name--and can you spell it please?
Jennifer: Jennifer Lee Block. J-E-N-N-I-F-E-R L-E-E B-L-O-C-K.
Scammer: Perfect! Okay, and please verify your parents’ names please.
Jennifer: Sure! Jack Smith is my father, and Jill Smith is my mother.
Scammer: Fantastic! Now, I need to verify that you have an operational bank account. Will you give me the number of your primary bank account, as well as the pin that you use to make transactions.
Jennifer: Yep, my account is with SomeBank, and the number is 3456789000. My pin is 1776.
Scammer: Very patriotic! Alright ma'am, I have everything I need to get you your adjustment. Have a great day!
*Scammer hangs up*
In a few minutes' time, Jennifer--believing that the scammer was Adam from the Social Security Administration--handed over everything the scammer needed to transfer money from Jennifer’s bank account, change her address, and even her phone number!
Block Law would like you to know you will never be asked by the Social Security Administration to verify anything via email, and rarely over the phone. Generally, if the Social Security Administration needs to communicate with you, they will do so by sending you a letter. Additionally, cost-of-living increases are automatically applied to your Social Security benefits--so, you will never be asked to “verify” information or “apply” for them.
Block Law’s Tips for Avoiding Identity Theft:
Avoid answering phone calls from phone numbers that you don’t recognize.
Trust your gut--only provide private information via phone or electronically when you are certain that the right person is receiving it.
Always direct your questions regarding Social Security to the local office of the Social Security Administration or to its hotline 1-(800)-772-1213.
Remember to report any call that you deem suspicious to the Office of the Inspector General by calling 1-(800)-269-0271 or by going to their website.
If you believe that you have been scammed, contact your state attorney general immediately.
Keep your guard up against spammers, and warn your vulnerable loved ones of the threat.
Scammers don’t just hunt by phone however. Through an act known as “phishing,” scammers send out emails with subject lines that stand out, spark your interest, or seem important and pressing. When an unsuspecting victim opens the email, normally there will be links directing the victim to websites requesting personal information. Additionally, the same types of communications can be sent via physical mail--known as mail fraud.
Scammers are evil, and they are adept at convincing unsuspecting victims--like Jennifer--into handing over their most important information. Then, they profit at the victim’s loss of their hard-earned property and assets. Block Law wants to help you feel safe knowing that your information is in the hands of the right people. Call Kennesaw’s Block Law today at (770) 387-4529 and let’s work together to secure and protect your identity!