Fraud that targets older adults is remarkably common. Thieves favor seniors as targets because they tend to be more trusting, making them easier to trick. The older a person gets, the more likely they are to have some money saved up or home equity. Thieves also know that seniors are often believed to be poor witnesses since they may not have as good of memories or take longer to realize they’ve been scammed. Because they are frequent targets, family caregivers need to be especially vigilant in watching over their finances and making them aware of scams. One scam that seniors may be targeted for is Social Security theft.
What is Social Security Theft?
Social Security theft occurs when someone gains access to an older adult’s Social Security payments and uses it for their own purposes. In some cases, a family member or close friend is guilty of the crime. They may trick the senior into giving the money to them or having it deposited into their account. However, Social Security theft can also be perpetrated by a complete stranger.
One way a stranger may steal Social Security benefits is by using the government’s online portal, My Social Security. The Social Security Administration (SSA) received in excess of 58,000 fraud claims related to the use of the portal.
This was the case described in an article posted on the AARP website. In the article, AARP reported on a woman named Mary who was 66. She had set up her account but was not claiming benefits yet. A thief gained access to her account and requested benefits be paid. Fortunately, Mary received a letter from the SSA telling her about a back payment she would be receiving, alerting her to the problem. She was able to contact SSA and have the payment stopped.
Tips for Preventing Theft
One way to prevent your aging relative’s Social Security benefits from being stolen is for caregivers to keep a close eye on the senior’s My Social Security account. Watch for activity that seems suspicious and report it to the SSA immediately.
Caregivers should also talk to older adults about the potential for fraud. They should be advised not to give personal information via the telephone or email unless they are absolutely certain the person requesting it should have access. Government entities do not initiate contact with a customer via phone or email and ask them for personal information, such as an account number, password, or Social Security number.
If you or an aging loved one is considering caregivers in Apache Junction, AZ, please contact the caring staff at SYNERGY HomeCare today: 480-377-6770.