Beware the New Scam Targeting Social Security Benefits

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The Social Security Administration is warning Americans about a new scam targeting benefits.

It involves the impersonation of Social Security Administration employees. The SSA and its Office of the Inspector General have received complaints from citizens across the country about this scam.

The complaints indicate that the impersonator uses a phone number with a 323 area code. In some cases, the caller says the victim is due a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, that would increase the victim’s Social Security benefits by 1.7 percent.

The impersonator asks victims to verify personal information so they can receive the increase. This information includes:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Parents’ names

An impersonator who gets this information uses it to contact the Social Security Administration and request changes to the victim’s direct deposit information, address and phone number.

Protecting your Social Security benefits

The latest fraud advisory from the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General is the fourth issued by the OIG so far this year. It should go without saying that you must always be vigilant about your financial information, including Social Security information.

Social Security Administration employees do occasionally call citizens for customer-service purposes. But the OIG says that “only in a few limited special situations, usually already known to the citizen,” will employees request personal information by phone.

The office also notes that if you receive a suspicious call from someone claiming to represent the SSA, you can report it by calling 800-269-0271 or visiting oig.ssa.gov/report.

You should always be wary about sharing personally identifiable information like your date of birth or Social Security number as well as financial information. The acting inspector general for the SSA, Gale Stallworth Stone, says of requests for such information:

“You must be very confident that the source is the correct business party, and your information will be secure after you release it.”

You can also take extra steps online to protect your Social Security benefits. As we reported in June, they include creating an SSA.gov account and enabling what is known as “extra security” for your account.

For more tips, check out “10 Golden Rules to Avoid Getting Scammed.”

Have you ever been targeted by a scammer? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.

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