How to Protect yourself against Phone Call and Email Scams

The #1 Financial Scam against seniors is the Social Security scam.  It is very easy to become a victim.  The Department of Justice is cracking down on robo calls but the calls continue to increase.

One of the latest scams is a phone call that your social security number is being suspended due to suspicious activity.  You are instructed to call right away to get it resolved.

Do not return the call.  We know this one is a scam because the government says it is.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) will never suspend, block, or revoke social security numbers.  SSA will never call you and ask you to give your social security number over the phone.

Recently SSA put out a warning that there is a new approach being used and it is email.  The criminal fakes documents and sends them by email and they look very legitimate.  In the email there is a threat to suspend benefits unless you pay a fine to resolve a case against you.

Experts say these scams will continue to increase with improvements in technology.  The Senate Special Committee on Aging is focusing on financial scams against seniors.  They reported in January that financial scams cause older Americans to lose nearly $3 Billion each year.   Last year Americans reported losing $38 million to the Social Security scam alone.

You can go to their website: www.aging.senate.gov to read what this committee is doing to stop Social Security scam.  There is a toll free hot line on the site where people can report financial scams.

Here are the signs to watch for to identify fraud before you become a victim.  The Inspector General says:

  • Social Security will never threaten you with arrest or other legal action.
  • Social Security will never promise a benefit increase in exchange for a payment.
  • Social Security will never require a gift card or cash or pre-paid debit card to pay a bill you owe.
  • Social Security will never send personally identifiable information by email such as your social security number or date of birth.

These are all signs that the call or the email is a fraud.

The best defense is to be informed.  Then just hang up the phone and do not open the emails.

Written by Connie C. Guelich, CFP, AEP, CLU, ChFC.  This represents our view at the time of this writing and is subject to change.  This is not intended to be personal investment advice.   If you would like to discuss your own account, please don’t hesitate to call us.  We are here to help and welcome your call.

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