NJFA has done a number of blogs about Go Direct, a campaign alerting those who receive Federal Benefits (such as Social Security) that they must sign up for Direct Deposit for those benefits by March 1, 2013 as US Treasury will no longer issue paper checks after that date.
There are two options, direct deposit into your bank account or you may chose to receive your benefits on a pre-paid debit card. You can learn more at www.ssa.gov/deposit/
Today, we want to tell you that in this age of technology, scammers are finding more ways to target seniors. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that they have been receiving reports from identity theft victims that their monthly Social Security benefits had been sent to a different bank account or pre-paid debt card, without their knowledge or permission.
SSA and the Office of the Inspector General continue to investigate and track these cases. The incidents are related to widespread schemes, the same kind of fraudulent phone calls or emails targeting seniors that have been going on for years. Now, the scammers are using this personal information to re-direct direct deposit of Social Security benefits.
David Vinokurov of the Social Security Administration states, ‚Äúto protect your identity, be wary of any calls or emails from people asking for personal information.‚Äù No legitimate company will make an unsolicited call asking for personal information like your Social Security number (SSN) or bank account. Mr. Vinokurov adds, ‚ÄúThe Social Security Administration will never ask for your SSN, we have it.‚Äù
The SSA does not want anyone to fear signing up for Direct Deposit, they know it is a safe and convenient way for people to receive benefits. Unfortunately, scammers will always find a way to take advantage, so the best thing you can do is to closely guard your personal information. If you receive a call or email asking you for your bank account number, Social Security Number or other personal information, do not give it out. ‚ÄúAlways pay attention to your bank statements and your credit reports‚Äù warns Mr. Vinokurov. You can receive a free credit report once a year, visit www.annualcreditreport.com to learn more.
Another safeguard through the SSA is that you can tell them that no changes may be made to your account unless you appear in person with ID, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/blockaccess
If you fear that your benefits may have been changed due to identity theft contact SSA immediately. For example, if you have not received your benefits and it is 3 to 4 days past your scheduled payment or if you receive a letter confirming a change to your direct deposit however you did not authorize this change, you should report the problem immediately to SSA.
To learn more about this type of fraud and how to report it, visit http://oig.ssa.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse