Common Social Security Scams that Prey on the Elderly

By Marianne E. Kreisher Esq., CELA on May 21, 2019

Older adults who receive Social Security benefits are currently being targeted by online scammers. Some scammers use email or online forms, taking advantage of the victims’ limited knowledge of technology. Other scammers operate over the phone through callers impersonating Social Security Administration (SSA) employees and soliciting personal information from elderly people.

Unfortunately, senior citizens are falling victim to these con artists every day, suffering serious financial losses as a result.

Social Security Fraud Hotline ID Spoofing

The SSA reports that the Inspector General is warning American citizens about a caller-ID spoofing scheme using the Fraud Hotline phone number for the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The Inspector General states that OIG has recently received reports of phone calls displaying the Fraud Hotline number on caller-ID, and emphasizes that this is a scam. Employees of OIG do not place outgoing calls from the 800 number of the Fraud Hotline.

Callers Impersonating SSA Employees

As stated in an AARP article, the Social Security Administration is also warning citizens of two different telephone scams. In the first scam, the person gets a call from an automated recording. The recording says that the person’s Social Security number has been suspended on suspicion of illegal activity. The recording instructs the person to call a number provided to correct the problem, or the person’s assets will be frozen. If someone does call the number, he or she is asked to provide sensitive personal information, which the fraudster can then use to commit fraud or identity theft.

In the second scam, a caller pretends to work for the Social Security Administration and asks the person to verify personal information. The information being requested includes Social Security number, date of birth, and address.

Fake Calls from the IRS

Another scam currently targeting the elderly involves calls, letters, or email messages from a party who claims to be from the IRS. These scammers demand the amount owing be paid immediately by wire transfer or prepaid debit card, frequently threatening arrest if payment isn’t made immediately. This scam may be run through email, with a link to “click here” to fill in a form to reveal personal information.

The IRS will not call you by phone without previously sending you a letter. Take no action without verifying the phone number on a letter, email, or phone call. The IRS does not threaten that you will be arrested if you owe taxes.

What Should You Do If You Have Been Scammed?

According to Consumer Reports, if you have been scammed, you should report it immediately. Based on one study, only approximately 14% of scamming victims report the scam. Reporting is important because it establishes accurate statistics which can help law enforcement agencies attempting to identify and break up fraud rings. Start with a police report, particularly if you want to make an insurance claim. Report credit or debit card fraud to the company or financial institution that issued the card. Start locally with your state attorney general’s office, the Better Business Bureau, and local consumer protection offices. On a federal level, go to https://www.usa.gov/ to match the agency to the crime you are reporting.

Contact Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC

Call Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC, at (570) 784-5211 if you have been a victim of a scam and need legal counsel or services. Our practice is focused upon elder law cases. Marianne E. Kreisher and Marissa B. Marshall are the only certified elder law attorneys (CELAs) in Columbia and Montour counties. CELAs are not only authorities on legal issues affecting seniors, they are also familiar with the other vital resources and services to meet the needs of senior citizens. CELA certification is through the National Elder Law Foundation as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Related Articles:

Posted in: Elder Law