Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Phishing Warning from SSA Inspector General

SSA Benefits
If you are one of the more than 60 million Americans receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), there is a good chance that every penny matters. Those collecting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or any one of the programs offered by the SSA, often struggle to cover their expenses each month even with assistance. Many of the people collecting benefits are some of America’s most vulnerable; unfortunately, this fact has not been lost on fraudsters and individuals who would usurp the identity of another.

Interestingly, the SSA says that signing up for a ‘my Social Security’ account on the organization's website could actually protect people from identity theft. The Inspector General for the Social Security Administration warns that criminals use phone calls, emails, and other methods to obtain people’s personal information; identity thieves use the information to attempt to open a ‘my Social Security’ account and then redirect a beneficiaries direct deposit benefits to a bank account they can access.

“If you receive information from SSA indicating that you have opened a ‘my Social Security’ account, and you did not open an account, you should contact Social Security so that appropriate action may be taken, and the matter may be referred to the Office of the Inspector General. You can do so by visiting or calling a local SSA office or calling SSA’s toll-free customer service at 1-800-772-1213. Deaf or hearing-impaired individuals can call Social Security’s TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.”

Internet Phishing Alert

One of the primary methods of obtaining people’s info is through a practice known as “phishing.” Fraudsters send emails meant to coax recipients into revealing sensitive information by clicking on a malicious link or opening a malicious attachment. The SSA offers valuable tips for protecting yourself against identity theft phishing, including:
  • Most emails from Social Security will come from a “.gov" email address. If an email address does not end in “.gov,” use caution before opening attachments or clicking on pictures or links in the email.
  • Good: https://www.ssa.gov/ Bad: https://www.socialsecurity.gov.gmx.de/ and https://www.socialsecurity.gov.bx.co.rx/setup
  • Do not respond to emails requesting personal information. Reputable businesses and public agencies will not ask you for personal information in an email.
  • For more information about "phishing," go to OnGuard Online.

The Inspector General recommends that you never provide your personal information when receiving unsolicited calls or contacts; never agree to accept pre-paid debit cards or credit cards in another person’s name; Never agree to send or wire money to an unknown person; and, always contact your local SSA office if you receive a call from a person claiming to be from SSA, and that person asks you to provide your Social Security number or other information.

If you find that someone has stolen or is using your personal information to open credit accounts or for other non-SSA-related purposes, you should report that to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or 1-877-ID-THEFT.

SSDI and SSI Attorney

If the SSA denied your application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or you are applying for benefits for the first time, The Driscoll Law Corporation can help. Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll can help you or a loved one appeal the SSA’s decision and get the benefits you require. Please contact our office today.

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