Social Security offers much-needed financial support to most retirees during their golden years. However, Social Security recipients tend to be favorite targets of scammers, who are on a constant look-out for ways to trick retirees into revealing their personal information.
Thus, it is extremely vital for retirees to watch out for Social Security scams to ensure that their financial safety net remains secure. In this article, we will discuss the top Social Security scams and some ways retirees can avoid them.
Top Social Security scams and how to avoid them
Here are the top Social Security scams targeting retirees.
Duping retirees with a fake identity
This is one of the most common scams, in which scammers pose as Social Security Administration (SSA) officials. Scammers contact the Social Security recipient via phone, email or in person, claiming there is an issue with their Social Security benefits.
Once the scammers convince them there’s an issue with their benefits, they push the retiree to reveal sensitive personal information, such as their bank account and Social Security number.
To avoid falling prey to such scams, you should never share your personal information over the phone or via email unless it was you who initiated the contact. It is also recommended that you hang up immediately if you feel a phone call is suspicious.
Additionally, you should try to verify the legitimacy of the call and the person who contacted you by calling the official SSA phone number.
Replacement card scam
Individuals seeking to replace their Social Security cards are easy targets for scammers. They initiate contact with the cardholder, telling them that they can help expedite the process in exchange for a fee. In other cases, the scammer may ask the cardholder to pay for the replacement card.
To avoid such scams, you must always request a replacement card by visiting the official SSA website or office. You should also remember that the SSA never charges any fee for a replacement card. Moreover, you should be cautious of any third party claiming they will get you a replacement card.
Threatening benefits suspension
As the subheading suggests, scammers may claim that your Social Security benefits will be suspended due to some issue with your account. They then ask you for a fee or your personal details to help resolve the issue.
To avoid this scam, it is important for you to understand that the SSA never threatens to suspend a recipient’s benefits without any prior notice. Additionally, before giving in to the demands of the scammer, it is crucial that you verify the alleged suspension by calling the SSA directly.
Enticing retirees with investment
Scammers may also lure Social Security recipients with enticing investment opportunities, such as promising an extra source of income or boosting their existing Social Security benefits. Scammers may demand upfront fees or personal information or push the recipient toward fake investments.
To avoid such scams, recipients should be skeptical of investments promising to boost their benefits. Moreover, if you come across any such enticing investment, it is crucial that you thoroughly research the details and, if possible, seek the help of a trusted financial advisor.
Threatening with over-payment of benefits
In this scam, the culprits claim that you received more benefits than you deserve and that you need to return the extra benefits immediately. They may even push you to make a payment via gift cards or other untraceable methods.
To avoid such a scam, you should verify the claims with the SSA directly. You should also remain skeptical of anyone asking for payment via unusual payment methods.
You may also receive an email or text message from a scammer pretending to be from the SSA. The email or text message may tell you about an important SSA update and how it could impact your benefits.
At the end of the email or text message, there will be a link claiming to offer recipients more details. However, once you click the link, it may allow the scammer to take control of your device and steal your crucial information.
To avoid such scams, it is important that you do not click any links that look suspicious and immediately delete any email or text message that seems suspicious.
More tips to avoid top Social Security scams
Social Security scams, especially those targeting seniors, are very popular among scammers. Despite precautionary measures from the SSA, including the launch of a new hotline to report scams, and the Department of Justice, which has taken legal action against telecom companies that knowingly passed along phony calls, the number of Social Security scams is just not slowing.
Legitimate-looking text messages and emails carrying suspicious links continue to pop-up across the U.S. Thus, it is very important for retirees to be aware of the top Social Security scams and these ways to avoid them.
In addition to the ways discussed above, knowing how the SSA works will also help retirees avoid these top Social Security scams. According to the SSA, it will:
- Never ask a beneficiary to make an immediate payment.
- Always give the beneficiary the option to appeal any of its decisions.
- Never require a specific means of payment.
- Never ask for credit or debit card numbers or any personal information over the phone.
- Never promise any Social Security benefit in exchange for information or money.