Social Security fraud is rampant in the U.S., and scammers typically target retirees. However, there are other ways thieves and criminals can target disability claimants (including veterans) to steal their identities. Just this year, three newer Social Security and charity scams affected thousands of older Americans. The criminals use their knowledge about the VA and SSA’s benefits programs to prey on claimants and their loved ones.
What Claimants Should Know to Protect Themselves From Scammers
To protect claimants from falling victim from one of these newer scams, read on to learn how they work and ways to report them.
Scam #1 Targeting SSD Claimants: The Medicare Card Scam
Once you get SSDI benefits for 24 months, all claimants receive a Medicare card in the mail. Until recently, the cards showed your entire Social Security number! The SSA resolved this issue by mailing claimants new cards with a unique ID number (i.e., not your SSN). As long as your mailing address is current, you should already have your new Medicare card. But if you haven’t gotten one, click here to request your new Medicare card today.
And if you get a phone call asking about your new card, it’s probably a scammer. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid don’t call claimants to ask for personal information. A widely shared Facebook post stated someone from Medicare was calling claimants about getting a temporary card. Claimants had to pay a fee for this “temporary Medicare card” costing anywhere between $4-$50. This scam prompted thousands of claimants to give up their personal information, including bank account and credit card numbers. Medicare asks any claimants that get one of these calls to hang up and then call them directly at 1-800-MEDICARE.
Scam #2 Targeting SSI, SSDI & Social Security Retirement Claimants: The Threatening Phone Call
A favorite tactic scammers love to use is calling and threatening claimants or asking for information by phone. It can be hard for claimants to know if these are legitimate SSA calls or not. More importantly, the newest scam “spoofs” the SSA’s toll-free number, so it looks like a legitimate call. But here’s your number-one clue: The SSA will never use threatening language or try to scare you into revealing personal information. The most common incidents claimants report to the SSA involve:
- A fraudulent SSA employee claiming there’s an issue with the person’s online account (i.e., a direct deposit didn’t go through at your bank)
- Insisting that you need to resolve a problem with your account immediately, over the phone
- Fake SSA agents claiming you need to go to a third-party website to resolve some issue with your benefits payment
If you think you got a fake call from someone pretending to work for the SSA, take action. Write down as much information as you can, including any phone numbers, websites, or tactics they use. Then, hang up. Call the SSA’s toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213. They’re open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Friday. If it’s a legitimate call, contacting the SSA directly through their own number is the best way to confirm it. They’ll let you know whether they really need to speak with you about some issue with your account. If it wasn’t the SSA calling, then report the fraudulent activity to them and they’ll investigate it. Following these steps can protect other claimants from becoming victims to these scammers.
Scam #3 Targeting Those On VA Disability: The Disabled Veterans Charity Scam
This scam robo-called thousands of Americans, promising their charity donations were “tax-deductible.” What’s more, the criminals used different real-sounding names for their fake charities (you can see a partial list here). But in fact, it was a fraud operation active in all 50 states. These con artists preyed on grateful Americans — and some even used fake names stolen from real VA disability claimants! As a result, this charity scam’s been wildly successful. If you receive a call from a charity asking to donate money to help disabled vets, hang up. (Especially if they ask for either your credit card or payment info!) There are many legitimate ways to donate, and virtually no legitimate charity uses robo-calls for fundraising. If you think you either accidentally “donated” to these scammers or see any unusual banking activity, click here to report it to the Federal Trade Commission now.
Not Sure If You’ve Already Been Scammed? Consult A Social Security Lawyer for Free
The SSA will never extort you, ask you for payment information, or prey on the elderly. Not sure if that phone call you answered was legit? You can sign up here to get free legal advice from a local Social Security lawyer. They’ll help you determine what is real and what is a scam without charging you any money.
Ready to see if you may qualify for legal assistance? Click the button below to start your free disability benefits evaluation now.
Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.