How to Defend Against Social Security Scams in 2020

Social Security scams are specifically designed to target the elderly and vulnerable. Learn more about this deceptive trick and how to keep your personal information protected.

Social Security scams are a growing trend that has targeted U.S. citizens and permanent residents, particularly those of retirement age over the past year. They begin with criminals who pose as social security administration officials and make fraudulent phone calls to unsuspecting individuals. The main objective of course, is to gain their victims’ trust and run off with their personal information and cash.

Social Security scam calls have become so sophisticated that scammers are able to “spoof” the incoming call number so that it appears to be that of the official government agency in question. Once the intended victim answers, the scammer generally identifies himself as a Social Security Administration (SSA) agent with all the identification necessary to gain the victim’s trust. For further verification, and as part of the fraudulent operation, they may ask the victim to provide a home address, Social Security number, bank and credit card numbers, and date of birth.

Once the scammers believe they have gained the victim’s trust, they move on to the kill. A common tactic used is to connect the victim and their Social Security number to a supposed fraudulent activity. Next, the scammers  threaten legal action, in addition to possible arrest for non-compliance. In order to prevent the authorities from proceeding with such drastic measures, the victims are given the opportunity to settle their debts immediately. 

In order to cover their tracks, remain anonymous and avoid a chargeback, scammers use certain untypical payment options. Gift cards, cryptocurrency and cash sent through the mail are a few of the possibilities provided to victims to settle their debt.

Government-related fraud has become so prevalent that a reported $153 million was lost in 2019 alone. Of this total amount, at least $37 million was connected to Social Security scams.

How to Spot a Scam

Scammers understand that individuals are more aware of the growing number of fraud cases out there and recognize the risks of online transactions. They therefore need to come up with new and innovative ways to convince individuals that the Social Security scam calls are legitimate. The following information will help you identify what to look out for in order to protect your private information.

Threats of Arrest or Legal Action

The Social Security Administration will not threaten individuals with legal action or arrest if you do not immediately settle a debt. If you receive such threatening phone calls, they are most likely fraudulent in nature.

Emails or Texts Received with Personal Information

The Social Security Administration will mail individuals to notify them of any problems, so don’t pay attention to any emails or text messages you receive. If you are still concerned, however, you can contact the SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213.

Poor Spelling and Grammar

If the caller follows up the conversation with an email with manipulated reports or information that may look official, look out for poor spelling and grammar mistakes. Those are a clear indication that you are being scammed. 

Unusual Payment Methods

Remember to never settle a government debt, fee or fine with retail gift cards, cryptocurrency, wire transfers, or prepaid debit cards. Scammers will ask for these methods of payment because they understand that they are exceptionally difficult to track and recover.

Increased Benefits in Exchange for Settling Fees

Don’t get lured into believing that your Social Security benefits will increase in exchange for settling some debt. Legitimate SSA employees do not have the authority to make such promises and will never do so.

How to Report Social Security Scam Calls

If you believe you were or are currently involved in a Social Security scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission and to the SSA Office of Inspector General. In addition, if you are seeking to recover your funds, you can contact MyChargeBack. We are an American fund recovery firm specializing in complex dispute resolution. Working with over 800 banks worldwide, we have assisted clients on every continent recover millions of dollars in assets that they thought they lost for good.

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