How to protect yourself from Social Security scams
Scammers are quick to pretend to be government employees, according to the Social Security Administration. In 2020, the SSA received 718,000 reports of social security telephone scams. As a result of these scams, a total of $ 44.8 million was reported lost, and the average loss per victim was $ 5,800.
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When you engage with a scammer who claims to be part of the Social Security Administration, you may be threatened with arrest or other legal action, according to the SSA. Unfortunately, when you are 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 and protect yourself from Social Security scams.
What Happens in a Social Security Scam?
“Scammers targeting seniors on Social Security have two main goals: to get their Social Security number and to get money,” said Chris Orestis, CSA, president of Retirement Genius and nationally recognized expert in matters of finance, health / LTC and retirement. âThey will often contact people with the message that their social security number has been used by someone else for a crime or to falsely apply for bank accounts and credit cards. They can also contact people to tell them they are eligible to receive additional payments for things like COVID help.
“The crooks will pose as the Social Security Administration and may even disguise the number they are calling from with a false caller ID using the real Social Security phone number at 1-800-772 -1213, but it is very easy to make a caller ID number and (bring down unsuspecting people) in this trick.
“They will call and tell their victim that due to one of these bogus reasons their benefits are going to be shut down unless they can verify their identity by giving them their social security number, or they have to check the bank account information and have the victim read those numbers to them.They might even tell them that they have to send them a reactivation fee to reactivate their Social Security benefits.
Now that you know what happens in a Social Security scam, here are some tips to protect yourself.
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To hang up
âSocial Security phone scams are common,â said Martha Shedden, RSSA (r), CRPC and president and co-founder of the National Association of Registered Social Security Analysts. âMy advice is to hang up and not share or verify any information. The Social Security Administration has said in the past that it won’t call you on the phone unless you have a preprogrammed call or a specific case going on with it. These scammers may appear legitimate and official, but don’t trust them. By withholding information and hanging up, you protect yourself and your identity.
Set up an online account
âThe easiest way to avoid Social Security scams is to create an online account with the Social Security Administration,â said Dawn-Marie Joseph, founder of Estate Planning & Preservation. âIt’s one of the safest ways to communicate and get information to and from Social Security. They have special security questions that only relate to things from your past life that you need to answer.
âAnytime someone asks you for your social security number, you should also be wary. There is no need to comply with their request for your social security number. Ask them if there is another way. to verify your existence.
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Stay on top of phishing scams
âTo prevent identity theft and Social Security scams, stay up to date with new phishing email scams,â said Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN. âA 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 turning you on with an offer, scaring you with a threat, or masquerading as a website or service you trust to pretend you need to confirm information about you.
“To avoid phishing emails that can lead to social security scams, don’t just rely on spam filters, look for spelling errors in emails, don’t click any links you don’t trust (often hovering the mouse over a link will tell you where it is linked) and use firewalls on your computer and device network settings.
âAlso, avoid pop-ups as they often masquerade 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 that you don’t have to worry about accidentally clicking on any of them.
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Regain your privacy online
âNavigating privacy issues in today’s interconnected and digital world is difficult,â said Rob Shavell, CEO of Abine / DeleteMe, an online privacy company providing services that protect online security and the digital footprint of people. The way third parties collect information from people is constantly changing, and one way to protect your privacy online and avoid scams is to remove your personal information from data brokers, search engines, and the internet and protect and regain your online privacy. Crooks can easily use the websites of data brokers like Spokeo, AnyWho, or InstantPeopleFinder to help them launch their attacks. For just a few dollars, anyone can access your personal information, which can include phone numbers, addresses, court records, and even lists of your family members and where they live. So one actionable tip is to buy a service that removes your name, email address, addresses, and more from online data brokers who profit from collecting and selling this information, like DeleteMe, or follow the DIY unsubscribe guide to do it for free. “
What you must 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 it money.
According to the Social Security Administration, you may receive a call from the agency, but no one will threaten or threaten to suspend your Social Security number, demand immediate payment, or force you to pay cash, cards. gifts, prepaid debit cards or bank transfers.
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In limited situations, you may also receive a text or email from SSA, but only if you have opted in to receive such text or email.
If you receive a text, email, or call regarding your Social Security number or account that you find suspicious, call Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or use the scam report form SSA to report the incident.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How to Protect Yourself from Social Security Scams