April 1, 2021

Dealing with Telephone or Email Scammers?

By Richard J. Schillig, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF
Independent Insurance and Financial Advisor

A recent article March 4, 2021 by Assistant Deputy Director of Social Security Administration really caught my attention and I thought it worth sharing with readers. Scammers are always finding new ways to steal your money and personal information by exploiting your fears. The most effective way to defeat scammers is to know how to identify scams and to ignore suspicious calls and emails.

One common tactic scammers use is posing as federal agents and other law enforcement. They may claim your Social Security number is linked to a crime. They may even threaten to arrest you if you do not comply with their instructions. Here are several things you can do:

  • Hang up right away or do not reply to the email.
  • To clearly identify a scam call state that you cannot talk now and ask for a return phone number.
  • Never give personal information, money, or retail gift cards.
  • Report the scam immediately to our law enforcement team at the Office of the Inspector General. 888-863-2244 or (202) 418-0473 and local police department. OR call us with day and time of call and the return phone number.

You should continue to remain vigilant of phone calls when someone says there is a problem with your Social Security number or your benefits. Social Security says ‘If you owe us money, we will mail you a letter explaining your rights, payment options, and information about appeals.’ Remember Social Security or Medicare will never:

  • Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee.
  • Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment.
  • Require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card.
  • Demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem.
  • Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.

Further Social Security says if you do not have ongoing business with us, it is unlikely we will contact you. Again, if you get a suspicious call claiming to be from Social Security, you should hang up and report it right away to our Office of the Inspector General. Please share this important information with your friends and family.

Our concern with scammers is for everybody but especially for the elderly. You may wish to caution elderly parents, grandparents and others about scams going on with Social Security and Medicare and now more recently with the new economic stimulus payments. Inspector General reports last year we received over 718,000 reports of Social Security related telephone scams – with a total of $44.8 million reported lost. Victims who lost money reported an average loss of $5,800.

Now with the new economic stimulus payment to all consumers almost a certainty the pandemic scams may gain momentum. Be aware.

During the month of April we continue our virtual meetings on the basics of Medicare and the options available with Medicare Supplements, Prescription Drug Plans and Advantage Plans. Our next virtual meetings are scheduled for April 20 and April 22. On Tuesday April 20 we review the basics of Medicare then focus on the Medicare Supplements. Thursday April 22 again we focus on the basics of Medicare then focus on the Medicare Advantage Plans available in these Medicare Regions – especially the United Healthcare’s AARP Medicare Advantage Plan. Call us ahead of time to be included in this virtual meeting. You can participate in

the privacy of your home or office using your own laptop or desktop personal computer. Call us to be include in these very informative meetings. 563.332.2200

Filed Under: Finance, News, Retirement, Technology