Social Security: Scams are no joking matter; don’t become an April Fool
Being the butt of an April fool’s joke is fine when it’s good-natured fun. But no one wants to fall victim to a scam artist or identity thief.
You may think you’re safe simply by not carrying your Social Security card with you and not providing your personal information over the Internet or by e-mail. But scam artists have become shrewd. Never reply to an e-mail claiming to be from Social Security and asking for your Social Security number or personal information.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America. If you think you’ve been the victim of an identity thief, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft. Or, you can call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261.
Some people who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are often victimized by misleading advertisers. Often, these companies offer Social Security services for a fee, even though the same services are available directly from Social Security free of charge. These services include getting a:
• corrected Social Security card showing a bride’s married name;
• Social Security card to replace a lost card;
• Social Security Statement; and
• Social Security number for a child.
Some direct scammers suggest that Social Security is in dire financial shape and that people risk losing their Social Security or Medicare benefits unless they send a contribution or membership fee to the advertiser.
If you receive or see what you believe is misleading advertising for Social Security services, send the complete mailing, including the envelope, to: Office of the Inspector General, Fraud Hotline, Social Security Administration, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235. Also, advise your State’s attorney general or consumer affairs office and the Better Business Bureau.
Please don’t let a scam artist or identity thief make an April fool out of you.
kathy petersen is a public affairs specialist for social security, denver region. you can write her c/o social security administration, 605 main, suite 201, rapid city, sd, 57701 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. next week, kathy shares information about the changes coming regarding electronic receipt of all government benefits.
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