It would be nice to think that the stresses of the past year have brought out the best in people around the world. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case—much as it would be great if it were. The various stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a windfall for scammers, who have been taking advantage of many people during these stressful times—often by relying on their goodwill, or by appealing to the emotions surrounding the benefits they need.
Scams are often directed at those receiving Medicare or SSD and SSDI benefits—scammers know that these recipients rely on their benefits, and are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to get information. So how can you avoid becoming a target of these scams? And how can a social security disability attorney help you wade through the often confusing requirements for receiving these benefits? We’ll break down some ways to avoid being the victim of a scam, and let you know how we can help.
What is an SSA scam?
An SSA scam is when a scammer contacts someone impersonating a government official from the Social Security Administration. The scammer often wants money or personal information (like your Social Security Number). This information can be used to hack into accounts and to steal money—or your identity.
What techniques are scammers using?
Scammers use a variety of tactics to try to get a response from you. Often these techniques can include calls, texts, emails, or letters that arrive through the mail. As technology evolves, scammers keep up with the times, and their strategies have changed, but scams have a variety of things in common.
Whether you receive a letter, call, or text, the scammers likely request money or your Social Security Number. They might say that you owe money and need to pay it back, or that SSA computers are down and they need your number in order to get you the money that you need. It’s also possible that they’ll try to persuade you that they can sign you up for “little known” benefits that can help you.
Scammers try to appeal to your emotions. When they tell you that you owe money, they might sound urgent, and threaten you with legal action if the money isn’t paid back immediately. Fear is a powerful motivator, and scammers often try to convince you that time is short, so you have little time to think—only to react to the first emotion.
Hope can be another powerful emotion, and scammers may try to appeal to you by offering you special deals or contracts that the government doesn’t want you to know about. They also rely on the confusion that often surrounds the SSA—amid all that paperwork, those receiving benefits can be tricked into thinking that there’s something that was missed. They might even try to convince you to support a charity, and appeal to your kindness towards others.
Recently, the Office of the Inspector General and the Social Security Administration reported that some scammers had made their scams even more realistic, by impersonating government officials. These scammers might provide “government ID numbers” or use the names and pictures of real officials, which can be found on websites. They might use text or email to send this “proof”, in the hope of convincing people of their legitimacy.
How can I avoid falling into a scam?
While scams are becoming more sophisticated, there are still ways to determine if you’re receiving real communication from the SSA. First, you should know that Social Security will never text or email images to try to prove an agent’s identity. Similarly, the SSA will never send a letter that requires you to send your information to an email account.
The SSA also won’t demand immediate action like scammers will—they won’t threaten you with arrest or legal action if you don’t respond immediately, and your Social Security number won’t be suspended if you don’t do what they say.
The SSA also won’t promise to increase your benefits if you pay them, and won’t require that you pay them through gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or through mailing cash to them. If you aren’t sure if a call is a scam or not, hang up. You can check your mySocialSecurity account, or you can call the SSA’s customer service. Make sure to use a legitimate number from the SSA’s website—never call back a number that a potential scammer gave you.
If you receive a letter, text, call, or email that seems suspicious, hang up and do not respond. You can also report the scam to the Office of the Inspector General. This is how the SSA is able to warn people about scammers’ evolving techniques, which can help keep others safe.
How can Heermans disability law firm help me?
At Heermans disability law firm, we support clients in Memphis the entire Mid South region at every step of the application and appeal process for disability benefits. There are scammers out there attempting to prey on those who need benefits, and we’re here to help you avoid trouble—and get the best results—as you wade through the complicated steps of applying for disability benefits.
Knowledge is your friend when it comes to the SSA and scams. You might know that having a lawyer for social security disability appeal procedures can make all the difference in whether or not the appeal is successful, but a specialized disability law firm or SSA law firm can help to guide you through the steps so you fully understand what’s happening—whether that’s explaining jargon-filled paperwork that’s hard to comprehend, or making clear how the SSA will contact you so you have an easier time identifying the warnings signs of a scam.
Our courteous, professional staff is here to help 24/7. Whether you need to apply for disability benefits, or your claim has already been denied and you want to consider an appeal, we’re here to help. Give us a call or text at (901) 244-0057, or use our simple online form for a free evaluation.
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