New Social Security Scam Targets Older Americans

( – Older Americans are frequent targets for scams. Due to their age-related mental decline, they’re more likely to fall prey to deception by clever bad-actors. One way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to become aware of the types of scams that target the elderly, as well as the red flags to watch out for that indicate foul play.

Social security scams are common enough that there are patterns in the scams that can help you avoid becoming a victim once they’re identified. One of the most common scams is contact by fraudsters claiming to be government representatives. They’ll bait their victims with the lie that the government owes them money and it must be paid immediately. That sense of urgency will typically disarm skepticism, and trigger the victim to hand over bank accounts or other personal information.

More than 55,000 people reported being the victim of this type of scam during FY2023.

Scammers pretending to be with the Social Security Administration (SSA) can also ask outright for cash. They’ll say they need a “processing fee” to release nonexistent funds. They can use fake caller-ID information or an email address that looks as if it originated from a government agency.

Some other red flags include scammers claiming your benefits have been suspended. They’ll prod victims for personal information to ‘reactivate’ the benefits. They want to use those personal details to steal the victim’s identity. They may also claim your social security number itself has been suspended until they can ‘verify’ your personal information. Don’t take the bait!

Another common scam is suggesting your benefits could go up, but you have to pay a fee or verify personal information first. Sometimes they’ll say you owe the SSA money due to an overpayment and threaten you with criminal penalties or loss of benefits. They’ll ask for an electronic payment via direct wire transfers or cryptocurrency, some will even boldly suggest mailing cash. Legitimate agencies would never take payments outside of normal channels.

If you suspect foul-play, hang up! If there’s a question about your benefits you can contact the SSA directly.

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