Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP®, CeFT™
According to the Federal Trade Commission, of the 65 and older population, over 33% are victims of financial frauds and scams on an annual basis. It is not surprising, then, that the latest scams to come out are related to Social Security and Medicare – two of the most widely used social support programs by the 65 and older population. Here is what you need to know about the newest scams:
There are two Social Security scams on the current watch list:
- The first one is where you will receive an official-looking e-mail from the Social Security Administration with an invitation to create a Social Security account so that you can receive your benefits. You land on a webpage where the scammers hope you will fill out your confidential information. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS. Never click on links in any of these e-mails. If you want to sign up for a Social Security Account, go directly to https://ssa.gov/myaccount/ (see our blog with detailed instructions about how to set up your Social Security account here).
The second one is where the scammers actually create an account for someone and redirect their payments to a bank account controlled by them, not by the victim. To prevent this from happening, create your own MySSA account with a strong username and password. This is similar to filing your tax return early before the scammers file a fake return and steal your refund. In addition, a recommended and increased security measure is that when you create your MySSA account, go to the settings and choose the option that any changes to the bank account into which your check is electronically deposited can only be done in person at a Social Security brank office and not done using your online account.
This scam is related to Congress’ passage of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization ACT (MACRA) in 2015 which is requiring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to remove Social Security numbers from all Medicare cards. Thus, they will begin reissuing Medicare cards in 2018. The current scam has scammers calling Medicare beneficiaries claiming to be Medicare and saying that they must confirm their current Medicare numbers before sending them a new card. Others call saying there is a charge for the new card and are collecting beneficiaries’ personal information. Please note that there is no charge for your new card and Medicare will never call you for your information. They already have it.
As an additional note, there are still tax scams continuing to occur. We wrote a blog about tax season scams earlier this year -- please take a moment to review this information to protect yourself and your loved ones.
A government agency will not contact you by phone or e-mail to request personal information or to demand money/payment from you.
You will always be contacted by mail or registered letter by government agencies and if money is owed, you will be given an opportunity to dispute charges.
If you suspect fraud related to these examples or any other type of financial scams or fraud, please contact the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470 or contact your financial planner for assistance.
Sandra Adams, CFP® , CeFT™ is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.