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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Frauds Target Seniors’ Social Security Disability Benefits

According to recent reports, senior citizens’ social security disability benefits are the latest targets of scams after the Social Security Administration (SSA) redirected the recipients’ payments to their electronic accounts to abide by the agency’s new regulation to stop sending paper checks, according to the agency’s Inspector General, Patrick O’Caroll.

During a Congressional hearing last week, O’Caroll explained how frauds make their way in stealing the recipients’ disability payments. He said that frauds usually get the victim’s personal information and bank account details by luring seniors to lottery scams that ask victims to spill out such personal details in order to claim big prizes.

Subsequently, upon getting the victim’s bank account number and other personal information, frauds, pretending as the account owner, will then contact the SSA and request their payments to be rerouted into another bank account number.

Incidentally, as of August 31, the agency’s inspector general office received more than 19,000 reports of questionable changes or attempted changes to a beneficiary‘s direct deposit information and each day, it still continues to receive 50 similar reports.

However, in a statement released by the SSA’s spokesman, Mark Hinkle, the said figure only accounts for only a tiny proportion of the 711 million payments that the agency made electronically over the same period. In fact, many of the said reports are a result of typing errors and not scams, Hinkle added.

Fortunately, Hinkle’s statement was backed by Identity Theft 911, a company helping identity theft victims. According to the company’s investigators, they started hearing about the reports of this kind of scam only recently. So far, there are only six instances of frauds rerouting social security disability benefits onto prepaid cards, according to Identity Theft 911.

Nevertheless, the SSA should be more vigilant when verifying a recipient’s identity when making changes to his or her electronic account, suggested by a Los Angeles social security claim lawyers.