The scammers are being more sophisticated in their attacks against vulnerable disability recipients in Pennsylvania.
The Social Security Administration has published warnings that criminals are fraudulently pretending to be federal government employees. They telephone people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and warn that those monthly payments are about to end—or promise that a windfall of several hundred dollars may be available. All the beneficiary needs to do is provide some “verification numbers” to complete the transaction.
Of course, those numbers—such things as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, and debit card account numbers—are essential to the disabled person’s financial wellbeing. Once the scammer has that information, he can fraudulently withdraw all the money from the disabled person’s account or even divert future disability payments to himself.
The chance of tracking down this criminal? Very low. The chance of recovering any of the money? Essentially zero.
Have you been phished?
Related scams also show up on the Internet, in what are called phishing (pronounced like “fishing”) attempts.
A person who collects SSDI benefits may receive an email message that looks as if it was sent from the Social Security Administration. The logo is right and the layout is convincingly similar to other government communications, giving the recipient the confidence that the message is legitimate. When he clicks on a link as instructed, it appears that he is being sent to an official federal government website to update his Social Security information.
The website is fake, but only someone well acquainted with Internet protocols would recognize that fact. Any financial information that the SSDI beneficiary enters will go right into the hands of identity thieves. Because the criminals operating these fake websites are often located overseas, there is even less chance they will be brought to justice.
Key tips to avoid a Social Security disability scam
Untangling a case of identity theft and restoring your good credit record can take years. Because the chance of recovering any money that was taken from you is so slim, the best option is to guard against identity theft is before it happens. Our Pennsylvania Social Security attorneys offer the following tips:
- Be wary when you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a Social Security caseworker. You should not trust anyone who claims to be a Social Security employee unless you have a reliable means of confirming his identity—for instance, by meeting the person in your local Social Security office (where he can show you his credentials), or because you called the phone number for a Social Security office yourself.
- Guard your personal financial information. The Social Security Administration will never call a client and ask for sensitive financial information over the phone. You should never disclose your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card and debit card numbers over the phone or online unless you made the call.
- Don’t trust emails requesting your data. Social Security does not ask for financial information through emails or online. If you receive an email requesting your financial information, call your local Social Security office yourself to see if any information is required and to report a possible scam.
- Don’t be silent. Identity thieves know that people will be embarrassed to admit they were taken in—or almost taken in—by a con artist. If you have been victimized, report it. Tell your friends about your case, too. Your experience may help catch a criminal trying to defraud someone else, and may prevent someone else from being hurt.
At Schmidt Kramer, we recognize that Social Security disability benefits are often the essential lifeline for our friends and neighbors in Harrisburg and the surrounding communities. We believe that we’re willing to go the extra mile to see that Pennsylvania residents get the SSDI benefits they need and deserve. If you are having difficulties applying for federal disability benefits, or if your application has been rejected, give our office a call at 717.888.8888 or 888.476.0807 toll-free. We can discuss your case in a FREE, confidential review. Our Schmidt Kramer attorneys charge a fee only if we obtain Social Security disability insurance benefits for you.