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  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , social security, Synthetic ID, Synthetic ID Theft, Synthetic Identity Theft   

    Identity theft trick could be undetectable for years 

    Identity theft trick could be undetectable for years

    Even if we’ve never experienced it personally, just about everyone is aware of identity theft. Over the years, victims of identity theft have found their lives thrown into turmoil over charges and expenses that they never applied before. However, since all the charges are in the victim’s name, it can take victims years before restoring their credit to a reasonable state it was in before the theft. Now, consumer advocacy groups are warning consumers about a different form of identity theft that could go unrecognized for potentially decades.

    The Better Business Bureau calls it Synthetic Identity Theft. It varies from usual forms of identity theft because it doesn’t steal the whole of your identity. In Synthetic Identity Theft, the thieves will only need your Social Security number. With just that, they can use a fake name, address, and date of birth to create a ‘synthetic’ person. That person won’t have any credit history at first so the thieves will initially be denied for any credit application. However, that will start a credit history for this synthetic ID and eventually, the thieves will be able to open some form of credit. Eventually, they’ll get a high enough line of credit where they’ll extend the credit to their limits before discarding the synthetic ID.

    Eventually, debt collectors will trace the original Social Security number back to its rightful owner and the nightmare of identity theft really begins. Young children are especially vulnerable to Synthetic Identity Theft as the thieves are looking for Social Security numbers that have no credit at all attached to them.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot consumers can do to protect themselves from Synthetic Identity Theft. Due to the way ID thieves use a hodge-podge of identity elements to create synthetic IDs normal precautions like credit freezes won’t work. The best way to protect yourself and your child is to keep your Social Security numbers closely guarded. You can also keep an eye out by monitoring your mail, phone calls, and email for strange communications that may be regarding your children.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , social security   

    Social Security scams are still targeting seniors 

    Social Security scams are still targeting seniors

    Every once in awhile it’s beneficial to review some of the more common scams that are going on today. One of the most common scams are those that threaten to affect the Social Security benefits of senior citizens. Due to the fact that many seniors are on a fixed income, any threat to their Social Security could be seen as a threat to their very existence.

    How the scam typically works is the scammers will call a senior citizen and claim to be from either law enforcement or from the Social Security Administration themselves. They’ll tell their victims that someone has used their Social Security number in some type of crime. The most common crime they claim is that your number was used to rent a car in another state that was found to have illegal drugs in it.

    The scammers will then threaten that your Social Security benefits could be suspended. However, they’ll say that in order to prove your identity you can make a payment over the phone. This is when the scammers will ask for payment in some untraceable means, usually retail gift cards.

    This happened recently to a woman in Ohio. She was told that she needed to empty her checking account before it would be seized by the government. The scammers kept her on the phone the entire time she was buying Target gift cards. Scammers have started doing this to make sure that someone won’t warn them of the scam such as store clerks or bank employees. Before it was all over, she had sent $4000 to the scammers.

    Please keep in mind that the SSA will rarely call you. The only time they may call you is if you have an ongoing issue with your Social Security benefits where you have already spoken with them in the past. This is important because scammers often spoof the SSA’s phone number when calling victims. Most importantly, the SSA will never ask for any sort of payment over the phone and definitely not in gift cards.

    Again, we ask that if you know an elderly person or couple who live alone and do not have access to the internet, please let them know about this scam.

     
  • Geebo 8:01 am on September 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , hotel scam, , , , social security   

    Another trio of identity theft scams to look out for 

    Another trio of identity theft scams to look out for

    Once again, we’re bringing you a trio of scams that are happening around the country. We think you should keep an eye out for them before they come to your area.

    The first scam literally is one that is happening all across the country. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has issued a warning about a Social Security scam that’s targeting seniors. Scammers are posing as the Department of Justice and are looking to steal personal information. The scammers will leave a number to call back which will lead you to a phony investigator who will ask you for your personal information. If you receive one of these phone calls, you’re asked to report them to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or the FTC website.

    The Department of Health from the state of North Dakota is reporting that residents there have been receiving worrying messages about COVID-19. People there have been receiving texts, emails, and even letters telling them that they’ve tested positive for coronavirus. However, many of the people receiving these messages haven’t even been tested for coronavirus. The messages contain a link that directs them to a website where they’re asked for personal information. You should never click on links from or open any attachments from someone that you don’t know personally.

    Lastly, if you find yourself staying at a hotel on a getaway, be careful what information you give over the hotel phone. Police in Wrightsville, North Carolina are warning vacation goers about a scam that has hit their area. Police there say that scammers are calling hotel rooms posing as the front desk and asking for personal information. Sometimes the scammers will even try to get financial information out of their victims. Please keep in mind that the hotel will not ask for payment information away from the front desk. If you receive a call like this while staying at a hotel either call the front desk directly or go straight to the front desk personally.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , social security   

    Social Security scams continue to target the most vulnerable 

    Social Security scams continue to target the most vulnerable

    It seems like Social Security scams are an ever-present problem anymore. For many disabled and senior citizens, their Social Security benefits are their only source of income and for too many, it’s hardly enough to make ends meet. For these reasons, Social Security recipients are seen as easy targets by many scammers.

    We’re not saying that Social Security recipients are more or less likely to fall for scams, however, scammers can be very convincing when it comes to pressuring their victims into doing things they wouldn’t normally do.

    When it comes to Social Security recipients, scammers often pose as employees of the Social Security Administration itself. They’ll relay some phony scenario in which the victim’s Social Security benefits will be cut off if the victim doesn’t act quickly. Threatened with the loss of their only income, too many victims fall for this scam each year.

    Normally, the scammers are after one of two things. In some instances, they’re only looking for your personal information. We say only but the loss of personal information could lead to a world of problems down the line as anybody who had their identity stolen could tell you. Potentially, identity thieves could take out loans or open lines of credit in your name leaving you facing a mound of debt.

    The other trick scammers try to pull is to get you to pay some sort of fee to ‘restore’ your Social Security benefits. As has become the norm, the scammers will try to get you to pay them in either git cards, pre-paid debit cards, or wire services like Moneygram and Western Union.

    These scams have become such an issue lately that some state Attorneys General have issued warnings to their constituents.

    Please keep in mind that the SSA will rarely call you. The only time they may call you is if you have an ongoing issue with your Social Security benefits where you have already spoken with them in the past. This is important because scammers often spoof the SSA’s phone number when calling victims. Most importantly, the SSA will never ask for any sort of payment over the phone and definitely not in gift cards and the like.

    If you receive one of these phone calls, it’s recommended that you hang up right away. You can then call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 to verify if there’s an actual issue or you could call the SSA’s fraud line at (800) 269-0271.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 10, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , social security   

    The Social Security scam that threatens arrest 

    The Social Security scam that threatens arrest

    There have been reports of another scam going around that targets senior citizens and something that many seniors rely heavily upon. Scammers are posing as the FBI and threatening seniors with either discontinuation of their Social Security benefits, arrest, or both. This scam is largely done in order to get frightened seniors to pay to make fictitious criminal charges go away.

    Recently, reports have come from multiple states where scammers will call seniors posing as FBI agents. The scammers are able to make their phone number appear as if the call is coming from the local FBI office. The scammers will then tell their victim that their Social Security number has been linked to a crime. One of the more common claims the scammers will use is that someone rented a car in the victim’s name which was connected with a major crime. Often the scammers will say that drugs were found in the car as well.

    The scammers will then use this ruse to tell their victim that their Social Security number has been suspended and that the victim would need to pay to get it reinstated. This is where the scammers will ask for payment in their favorite form of currency, gift cards. They’ll instruct the victim to buy an astronomical amount of gift cards and then give the scammers the numbers from the back of the cards.

    Now, you may say that you could never fall for a scam like that. However, many scammers have such a fine-tuned operation that they make the scenario seem more than believable. In many cases, it’s not just one person calling pretending to be a federal agent. Often they’ll keep transferring the victim from one person to another who are all claiming to be part of the FBI while they use psychological tactics to scare the victim into making the payment. These payments are often tallied in the thousands of dollars.

    However, there is always a way these scammers tip their hands and that’s asking for the money in gift cards. We can’t stress enough how often gift cards are not only involved in this scam but also in most scams that happen today.

    If anyone is claiming to be from the government, a utility company, a hospital, or anyone else trying to collect a payment and they ask for a payment on gift cards, it’s almost a certainty that they’re a scammer.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , social security,   

    More info on stimulus delays 

    More info on stimulus delays

    Even with a large number of Americans having already received their economic impact payments, many still have not. We’ve been receiving a lot of questions about the delays and we’re going to try to answer them as best as possible. However, please keep in mind we are not tax experts and we defer all final authority to the IRS’s Coronavirus and Economic Impact Payments website.

    The most common questions we receive are about the stimulus payments and Social Security. While we don’t have the answer for every situation, from what we understand, payments are supposed to start going out this week. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone on Social Security benefits will receive there’s this week so you should plan accordingly. From everything that we’ve read, if you receive Social Security benefits you’ll receive the stimulus payment the same way you receive your Social Security payments even if you’re not required to file taxes.

    If the IRS does not have any payment information on file for you, you’ll receive a paper check if your eligible for the stimulus payment. Paper checks will be issued in order of annual adjusted gross income. That means that the people who claimed the least income on their 2018 or 2019 tax returns will receive their paper checks first. This article from Forbes contains a schedule of when paper checks are scheduled to be issued depending on your gross income. The highest earners may have to wait until September before receiving their paper checks.

    Lastly, we’ve been hearing some discussion about whether or not US citizens who are married to immigrants will receive a stimulus payment. There is an element of truth to this but it’s not as cut and dry as most people think. If a U.S. citizen is married to an immigrant who does not have a Social Security number and file taxes jointly, neither person is eligible for the stimulus payment. However, if the U.S. citizen filed a single return, they are eligible for the stimulus payment. If a U.S. citizen is married to an immigrant who has a Social Security number and filed taxes jointly, both persons are eligible for the stimulus payment.

    We hope this clears up some of the confusion.

     
  • Geebo 8:10 am on March 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , social security   

    Social Security Office warns of new scam 

    Social Security Office warns of new scam

    It’s difficult to find a scam these days that isn’t somehow related to today’s global crisis. Many of these scams have been targeting either the elderly or the underprivileged. The scam we’re discussing today does both.

    The Social Security Office of the Inspector General is warning recipients of a new scam. Due to the current pandemic, many local Social Security offices have been temporarily closed. Social Security itself is still open and functioning. However, scammers have been trying to take advantage of the possible confusion. The scammers have been sending official-looking letters in the mail claiming that Social Security benefits will be terminated or suspended unless they call a phone number contained in the letter. It’s during this call where the scammers will either try to get your personal information or try to get you to make some form of payment. Scammers will try to get victims to pay using such untraceable methods like gift cards, cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, or even mailing cash.

    While using pandemic fears as a catalyst is new, this is a twist on a scam we’ve seen used before. Scammers are constantly looking for Social Security recipients to intimidate into thinking their benefits are about to be cut off. In the past, they’ve told victims that their benefits will be suspended because the victim’s Social Security number was used during a crime.

    According to the Social Security Office, they will not suspend or decrease Social Security benefits during the current crisis. Also please keep in mind that Social Security will never threaten you with arrest or ask you for a payment in any of the aforementioned ways. If you receive any kind of notice threatening suspension of benefits, it’s more than likely a scam. If someone were to receive one of these notices, you’re asked to report it to Social Security at their website.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 6, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , social security, ,   

    Identity thieves could steal your tax refund 

    Identity thieves could steal your tax refund

    We’ve discussed IRS scams in the past but those scams usually involve someone posing as an IRS agent demanding money from their victims. Now, with it being tax season, there is a whole different scam to be on the lookout for and that’s the tax identity theft scam. In this scam, identity thieves get a hold of your Social Security number and try to steal your tax return using your personal information. With the advent of electronic filing and direct payments, it’s easier than ever for someone to file a phony tax return before the victim even knows about it.

    One of the main ways that identity thieves steal your personal information during tax season is posing as tax preparers. If you’re going to have your taxes prepared professionally stick with the more reputable and well-known firms. If you’re going to use a local tax preparer for the first time, do your research on their reputation and performance. A number of fly by night operations seem to pop up out of nowhere during tax season. If they’re offering their service at below-market costs this could be an indicator that they’re not on the up and up.

    The best way to avoid this scam is to file your return as early as possible. Basically, you want to try and get your return in before any potential identity thieves do. If you’re filing by mail you should take your return directly to your local post office and not risk leaving it to sit in a mailbox. And definitely don’t leave it in your own mailbox for the postal carrier to pick it up. It could be easily stolen from your mailbox that way.

    If you receive a letter from the IRS stating that a duplicate return has been received get in touch with them right away as that means that someone did, in fact, file a return in your name.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 31, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , social security   

    Social Security scams are now the #1 phone scam 

    Social Security scams are now the #1 phone scam

    This past Wednesday, the Senate Aging Committee released a report claiming that social Security scams are now the nation’s leading phone scam. For the first time in five years, social Security scams have outpaced IRS scams when it comes to financial losses. These scam calls resulted in the loss of $38 million in 2019 with most of the losses coming from seniors. The Social Security Administration has promised to bolster education efforts when it comes to warning recipients about these scams. This will include mailers sent to recipients and a banner across the SSA website warning recipients of ongoing scams.

    We’ve discussed Social Security scams multiple times in the past. The way they generally work is that the victim will receive a phone call telling them that either there’s been suspicious activity attributed to their Social Security number or that their Social Security benefits are about to be suspended. Sometimes even both these options are threatened. Often these calls will appear as if they’re coming from the SSA’s customer service number which can be easily spoofed. The scammers will then instruct the victims that the problem can be resolved with some kind of payment. This can range anywhere from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Unless you have an ongoing case that requires resolution with the SSA, they will never call recipients. If there is an issue with your Social Security number or benefits, the SSA will always reach out by mail. If you receive one of these phone calls that threaten you with legal action or request some form of payment, you’re asked to hang up and report the call to the Office of the Inspector General. If you know someone who could potentially be targeted in a Social Security scam please show them this post, the article we linked to above, or this warning page from the SSA.

     
  • Geebo 9:03 am on January 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , social security   

    Man loses $30,000 to scammers posing as federal agents 

    Man almost loses $30,000 to scammers posing as federal agents

    A man in Michigan almost lost $50,000 after falling prey to a very threatening scam. Unfortunately, the man did lose $30,000 to the scammers before the scam was noticed. For many, especially the elderly, that is not an insignificant amount of money to lose. The scam that was used against him was a combination of scams that we’ve discussed previously. At first, it involved a call from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration. They told the man that a car had been leased in his name using his name and Social Security number. From here it became more frightening for the man.

    He was then transferred to someone claiming to be from the Drug Enforcement Agency and that if he didn’t pay them money he would go to jail. The man didn’t believe them and he hung up. He then received a call from someone claiming to be from the local barracks of the Michigan State Police telling him he would be arrested if he didn’t cooperate with the supposed DEA agent. The scammers then instructed the man to purchase $10,000 in gift cards and provide them with the numbers. The next day the scammers called back and instructed him to overnight $20,000 in cash to a location in Texas. The scammers tried to get another $20,000 out of the man but his bank informed him that he was likely the victim of the scam.

    There are a lot of red flags in this story. The first is that Social Security rarely calls recipients and that’s usually only when there’s an ongoing issue that the recipient initiated. Secondly, law enforcement will never call someone asking for money. Lastly, no government agency accepts or requires money through gift cards. If you receive a phone call like this, hang up and call your local police. If you believe there may be some kind of issue that needs your attention through Social Security or law enforcement, call them back at their official numbers.

     
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