Earlier this year, the Social Security Administration began to send almost all payments electronically. According to the AARP, the electronic bank deposits have led to an alarming result. Many Social Security beneficiaries have had their payments stolen.
You would think that receiving an electronic payment would be safer than having a check sit in your mailbox. But, thieves are able to reroute electronic payments to their own bank accounts or debit cards. Between October 2011 and June 2013, over $28 million in Social Security benefit payments were stolen. How does this happen?
The thieves pose as telemarketers or charity workers in order to get the beneficiary’s personal information. They only need a Social Security number and bank account number; then they can contact either the Social Security Administration or the bank and ask to have the money rerouted to a separate account.
Other thieves are able to hack into accounts and change where the money is deposited.
Making ends meet is difficult for those who receive SSDI or SSI. They have little opportunity to save. When benefit checks are stolen, elderly and disabled Americans are left unable to pay for basic necessities such as rent, utilities, groceries, and medication. Even a month of lost benefits can cause a medical emergency or homelessness.
Last month, the US Senate Special Committee on Aging created a panel of advocates and theft victims to determine how to prevent these crimes and compensate the victims. In the meantime, here are some tips from our Omaha disability lawyers that can help you prevent the theft of your SSDI benefits:
- Never give out your personal information to callers; this includes your birthdate, social security number, and financial information.
- If a caller claims to be from your bank, ask them to provide some identifying information.
- Don’t accept credit cards or pre-paid debit cards that are in another person’s name
- Never send or transfer money to someone you don’t know
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the SSA, contact your local SSA office for verification. Do not provide your Social Security number or any other information.
- If you suspect fraud, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
If you need help with your SSDI application, contact us today for experienced assistance.