With the rise of a new Social Security and Medicare scam, it is important that everyone learn, or refresh their knowledge, on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from Social Security scams. Let’s take a look a look at how these scams work.
Social Security Administration Scam
The Acting Inspector General of the Social Security Administration (SSA), issued a warning about a new social security scam, where citizens have received calls with an automated recording claiming to be the Social Security Administration, and stating that their Social Security Number “has been suspended for suspicion of illegal activities” and that they should contact them on a phone number not related to the SSA to resolve the issue. Another scam featuring the SSA, is where you receive a call from someone claiming to be an agent of the SSA, and informs you that you are required to reactivate your Social Security Number. They will request the same information as the prior scam to proceed with the reactivation. This is a huge red flag that you may be faced with a scam because once officially issued, your social security number will never need to be reactivated, so any call you may receive with regards to reactivating your social security number is bogus. In both scams, once you call the number an operator will ask you to confirm details such as your social security number, full name, date of birth, bank account details and home address. They then claim to have resolved the issue and ends the call having secured your personal information for future nefarious activities.
There are multiple Medicare scams in existence with the latest scam taking full advantage of Medicare’s new card system. A large population of Americans are unaware that their new Medicare card will be issued to them for free, and scammers have begun to contact members of the public, and especially the elderly who may not be aware of the change, claiming that they cannot issue the new card until payment has been received. They will offer to help you complete your application for your application for your new card, by asking you to repeat all your personal information, so they can confirm your details on the system.
What Happens After Scammers Have Your Personal Information?
Once a scammer has collected all your personal information, scammers often begin to apply for credit under your name, really good scammers often get away with requesting “replacement” or secondary cards for credit lines you already have open. Ruining your credit is just the start. Scammers can also use your personal information to commit healthcare fraud, where they use your identity at doctors and hospitals, which eventually leaves you with the bill.
The more extreme cases involve scammers moving money through stolen identities which, by opening accounts and business which fronts for illegal activities. In these cases, you will be flagged by the IRS for suspicious activity, tax fraud and tax evasion. If the IRS doesn’t flag you, you may be arrested for your supposedly crimes during a police investigation.
Protecting Yourself From Scams
The only real way to protect yourself is to become familiar with how the SSA operates, as scams rely on the lack of knowledge about the safeguards put in place by the SSA. The SSA has stated that they will never contact any persons, unless you have requested a response from them, whether it is to ask for assistance or have if you have questions. The SSA will also never request any personal information from you over the phone. Should you need to update any information, the SSA will only accept information submitted online, or in person at an SSA office. Should you receive any calls from the SSA, it is recommended you immediately hang up. You can also make use of a blocker to block the number, or you can save the number as a contact called “scam” to avoid answering any more of their calls.
You should keep your social security card in a safe place, and not your wallet or purse. If a thief manages to steal your wallet, your social security card has all the information they need to scam you. You should never share your social security number with anyone except your works accounting department or your personal accountant.
If you are concerned you have already been a victim of identity theft, or have previously had fraud occur on your current social security number, you can request a new social security number, by appearing in person at a social security office, with a statement explaining the reason behind needing a new social security number, credible evidence from a bank or a third party, to support the claims you’ve made on why you need a new number, and finally original documents of that prove you are who you say you are, and that you are legally living in the United States.
If you have requested any information from the SSA, and receive a call from the SSA, it is recommended you put the call on hold and call and contact the SSA’s helpline on 1-800-7720-1213, to validate the legitimacy of the number. If you have identified a scam number, you can help protect others by reporting the number to the SSA Fraud Hotline on 1-800-269-0271, for the hearing impaired on the TTY number 1-866-501-0271.
Be vigilant. Identify discrepancies. Act Quickly.