Social security scammers defrauded $ 45 million from people in the past year. This is how you avoid becoming a victim

You likely received a phone call claiming your Social Security number has been compromised.

For people who fall for such scams, the experience can result in huge financial losses.

An elderly Massachusetts woman lost more than $ 900,000 in a social security fraud operation, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern Illinois District.

In January, a man from the Chicago area pleaded guilty to his role in the money laundering program. In doing so, he used a fake Indian passport, name and address to open US bank accounts and receive money from the victims.

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The call volume is high. A telecommunications company cut ties with customers who made a total of 27 million calls in a single day, according to warnings and summons from the Inspector General for Social Security.

Since October, the government has received nearly 300,000 social security fraud complaints.

Last year there were more than 718,000 reports of social security-related phone fraud, representing a loss of nearly $ 45 million.

“Scammers have worked hard for years to get people out of their personal information and money,” said Andrew Saul, Social Security Commissioner.

The calls often claim to represent credit card companies, other businesses, and even the Social Security Agency.

The caller can claim there is a problem with your social security number or account. You can ask for your social security number or your bank account information. And they can threaten you with arrest or a fine if you don’t pay a fee.

“The scammers play with emotions, they are generally afraid of getting people to act without thinking,” Saul said.

A new twist on the scams is that the perpetrators use real names from Social Security and other government officials and display fictional government identifications or ID numbers.

“Hang up,” Saul said. “Don’t contact the caller.”

Scammers play with emotions, generally afraid of getting people to act without thinking.

Andrew Saul

Social Security Administration Commissioner

It’s also important to know that the SSA will never call you about an issue with your Social Security number or email or text photos that supposedly constitute official identification, said Gail Ennis, inspector general for social security.

“Never make payments using gift cards, wire transfers, or cash mail for any reason,” Ennis said.

If you receive a suspicious call, report it to the SSA office on the Inspector General’s website.

On Thursday, the SSA is running an annual campaign to raise public awareness of how to use these programs.

It’s called Slam the Scam Day and will feature live social media events to educate the public about the scams. USA.gov hosts a Twitter chat at 3:00 p.m. Eastern or a Spanish chat at 1:00 p.m. for Spanish speakers.

The SSA will host a Facebook Live event at 7:00 p.m. Eastern where the Federal Trade Commission will answer questions about the programs.

This year, CVS branches agreed to get the message across by playing an announcement from Saul in its 10,000 US branches.

The campaign coincides with vaccine distribution, which is being carried out in select CVS stores.

“We have a bit of a captive audience and hopefully more people than normal in their stores,” said Ennis.

Other retailers that are also helping to get the word out are Walmart and Home Depot.

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