How to Avoid Social Security Scams

Social Security card and U.S. currency.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently issued a warning about an upsurge in schemes targeting Social Security recipients. Someone calls you over the phone claiming to be from the SSA and says your Social Security accounts have been suspended due to suspicion of illegal activity. They may be a real live person or a robocaller. The caller then says that if you fail to resolve the issue by calling back a certain phone number, your assets will be frozen.

Pretty scary, right? Especially when a majority of older people rely on Social Security benefits for a large part of their income after retirement. The specter of criminal prosecution or the freezing of vital assets can frighten elderly Social Security recipients into giving the caller whatever information he or she asks for.

And guess what: That information — which may include your Social Security number, your mother’s maiden name, your date of birth, and your bank account numbers — will be used for identity theft.

Social Security scams are widespread

Unfortunately, this is only the most recent of many scams targeting Social Security recipients. Several years ago, many Social Security beneficiaries received an email purporting to be from the SSA. It used a highly official-looking email address, “no-reply@ssa.gov,” and asked recipients to click on a link to receive augmented protection for their benefits.

Fraudsters have set up fake websites looking like the SSA portal to entice people to apply for Social Security benefits. Callers can also duplicate the Washington, D.C., area code so you’re more likely to believe you’ve been called by a government agency. So don’t be fooled by calls, emails, or websites that look official.

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