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Avoid this scam targeting Social Security recipients

What would you do if someone called and told you there was a problem with your Social Security account? You rely on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to get by. And if they said they were from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you might be tempted to give them personal financial information or your Social Security number (SSN).

Don’t do it. It’s a scam.

How can we tell? The SSA doesn’t contact people by telephone unless they have requested a call or have ongoing business with the agency. They would never call you up to tell you there was a problem. They would always – always – send you a letter.

In fact, if you get a call out of the blue from someone claiming to be from the SSA, you should hang up and report the call to the SSA’s Office of the Inspector General.

According to the SSA, scammers are targeting people who rely on Social Security by claiming to be from the government. They often claim there is a problem with your SSN or that they are going to suspend your SSN.

That’s another clue. The SSA doesn’t suspend SSNs. It also doesn’t threaten you with arrest.

Often, the scammers say you owe money. That’s the point of the scam – to get your money or private information that could allow them to steal your identity.

When claiming you owe money, they will often demand immediate payment. Sometimes, they will say that you need to pay in cash, through gift cards, pre-paid debit cards or wire transfer.

This is another clue. Even if you did owe the U.S. government money, it wouldn’t ask for these types of payment.

Other times, the scammers claim the government owes you money. They may say you need to give them your bank account number or SSN in order to get this year’s cost of living increase (COLA). Their goal is to get your personal information so they can access and empty your account.

There will be a COLA this year, but you do not need to do anything special to receive it. It will be paid as part of your monthly deposit.

Always hesitate to give out your SSN or financial information

Make a rule for yourself that you will never give out private information to someone who calls you or emails you. Instead, you will call the official number of the agency or company asking for that information. If they initiate the call or email, it should put you on alert for a scam.

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