On the heels of the widespread IRS scam comes the latest slam from Uncle Sham: emails and phone calls from fraudsters claiming to be from the Social Security Administration.
Two schemes are in the works: One involves emails supposedly from the SSA or a third party working on behalf of the official government agency and claims that you are eligible for a new benefit and can apply by completing an online form. Click the link, warns the Better Business Bureau, and you’re asked for ID-theft-worthy details, including your driver’s license and SSN. A phony confirmation page follows, claiming you’ll be contacted later with a status report.
In the other ruse, coming by email and telephone (my mother was called last week), you’re told the agency needs an “update” of your information that's on file. Besides the success of the IRS scam, this ploy may be specifically timed to coincide with Medicare open enrollment, which begins Oct. 15.
Provide nothing. Both schemes aim for information to open a fraudulent “my Social Security” account on the SSA.gov website — and reroute direct-deposit benefits to scammer-controlled bank accounts. Gleaned details can also be used to open financial accounts in your name.
Real employees of federal agencies don’t email or call unexpectedly to ask for information already on file. Official correspondence will come by U.S. mail.
If you fell for either ploy, or receive word from the SSA about a “my Social Security” account that you didn’t open, contact the agency at 800-772-1213. The TTY number is 800-325-0778.
“This should in no way discourage people from using SSA’s ‘my Social Security’ feature, which enables the public to view their earnings history and estimated benefits and allows beneficiaries to obtain a host of services online,” says the agency. “In fact, establishing your account eliminates the risk of a new account being opened by an identity thief.”
It’s good practice to regularly check your benefits and credit report. You’re entitled to one freebie per year from each of the three credit-reporting bureaus to spot fraudulent accounts; go to AnnualCreditReport.com .
Also of Interest
- Payday Loan Fees Often Exceed the Amount Borrowed
- Why Long-Married Couples Split
- Fight fraud and ID theft with the AARP Fraud Watch Network.
- Join AARP: savings, resources and news for your well-being
See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more.