Avoiding Social Security Scams During the COVID-19 Pandemic
With studies showing that anxiety and depression in Americans increased considerably due to the coronavirus crisis, scammers and fraudsters are not wasting their time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With more than 26 million unemployment filings within just five weeks, Americans with lower income are more worried about the pandemic’s effect on the U.S. economy.
With so many Americans experiencing anxiety and emotional distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers and fraudsters are taking advantage of these uncertain times to prey on unsuspecting Americans.
Particularly, Social Security beneficiaries have been one of the most vulnerable targets during these unprecedented times. We are going to review ways to protect yourself against Social Security scams during the coronavirus crisis.
Social Security Scams During the Coronavirus Pandemic
If you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits or other payments from the SSA, you probably know that Social Security recipients have always been targets for scammers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought new types of scams.
During the pandemic, Social Security beneficiaries may receive a legitimate-looking letter from the SSA saying that their benefits have been suspended. The letter then advises the recipient to call a phone number specified in the letter to continue receiving their benefits. During the phone call, the scammer tells the recipient to pay a fine or fee to continue receiving monthly checks.
However, the SSA has not and is not planning to suspend or withhold benefits during the COVID-19 crisis. Thus, if you receive a letter or phone call telling you to pay a fine or asking for your personal information, report the incident to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Note: The SSA never asks to provide personal information over the phone or via a letter/email. If you ever get a legitimate-looking request to provide your personal or banking information, contact the SSA to check if the person reaching out to you is their representative or a scammer.
How to Avoid Social Security Scams During the Pandemic?
With more than 300 million Americans remaining at home to flatten the curve, scammers are taking advantage of the widespread panic and anxiety. Here how you can avoid becoming a victim of Social Security scam in the coronavirus era:
- Do not be fooled by caller ID. Phone calls with Social Security scams may show up on caller ID as the SSA and may even appear like the agency’s real number. Do not be fooled by fake caller IDs.
- Take everything the caller is telling you with a grain of salt. The SSA cannot suspend or discontinue your benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic because the agency’s offices are closed. Do not believe that your bank accounts are about to be seized if you do not provide your personal information.
- Do not verify your Social Security number or any personal info unless you are 100% certain that this is the SSA calling.
- Do not wire money, send cash, or put funds on gift cards. The SSA never asks its recipients to do these things.