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Avoiding Social Security Scams in Wisconsin

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1906998922.jpgBy: Attorney Ray Dall’Osto

Scams are growing more and more sophisticated with each passing year. Avoiding scams can be difficult, due to both how common they are and how convincing they can appear to be. The elderly are perhaps the most common targets for Social Security and Medicare scams, although people of all ages can and do fall victim to scam artists. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that victims lost millions of dollars to social security scams in 2018 alone, and that number is only increasing. Keeping yourself, your family and your elderly or more vulnerable loved ones up to date and educated about current common scams is one of the best ways to stop these predatory criminals from victimizing more individuals. Read the governmental agency links on how best to avoid scams.  Contact a lawyer knowledgeable about consumer protection laws for help if you or a loved one were the victim of a scam or identity theft. 

What Are the Types of Social Security Scams?

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that no one from any government agency will ever call you and ask for your personal information such as your social security number. Anyone who does so is almost certainly a criminal attempting to steal your money, your identity or personal financial information. Some common scam techniques are as follows, which you can pass on to your family and friends as a caution:

  • Caller or sender says there is a problem with your Social Security number or account

  • Callers threaten you with arrest or other legal action.  Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency or panic by making bogus threats over the phone or in emails and text messages. Your social security benefits are not about to be canceled. Your bank account is not about to be seized. The IRS is not about to arrest you. If anyone calls and says something like this - just hang up.  The caller is a crook. 

  • Scammers pretend they are from Social Security or another government agency. Caller ID, texts or documents sent by email may look official but they are not.  Beware, as telephone number can be spoofed; they may appear on your caller ID that it really is the Social Security Administration calling you. The phone number could look real, but it is quite easy nowadays for scammers to call from a fake number. If you get a call from Social Security that has not been pre-arranged by you and confirmed by letter, hang up and do not call back.  

  • Any call, text, or email asking you to pay a fine or debt with retail gift cards, wire transfers, pre-paid debit cards, internet currency, or by mailing cash.  Absolutely no legitimate government agency will ever request that you pay any fine or fee in gift cards. Nor will they offer such.  Anyone who tells you that you must purchase gift cards to satisfy a debt to the government is a scam artist, so ignore them and hang up.

  • Fake checks - You received a check that looks legitimate. You deposit it into your bank account and it seems to clear. Then you are told that the scammer, possibly posing as someone from Social Security or another agency, has accidentally sent you too much money and you are asked to send some back. The check then bounces and you have lost whatever money you sent. 

The best tip is that if you ever receive a phone call from someone saying that they are from the Social Security Administration or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it is highly questionable that such call is legitimate, so simply hang up.  Then, go to the government agency link below and report the call or contact as a possible fraud attempt.  If the original call was legitimate, you will be contacted in writing by the government agency.  If not, you will have saved yourself quite a bit of money and trouble.

Remember, if you receive Social Security or Medicare benefits, and have not done so already, you should set up your own secure and confidential online account, on which you will receive legitimate government notices; not on the phone.  Set up your account at:  https://www.ssa.gov/onlineservices/ 

Need Help? Contact a Wisconsin Law Firm

Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown LLP addresses a wide variety of legal needs and may be able to assist those targeted by scam artists, identity thieves and consumer fraudsters. Our experienced Milwaukee attorneys are ready to take your call. We can be reached at 414-271-1440 to arrange a confidential consultation. 



Sources: 

https://www.ssa.gov/scam/

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alertsgray

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/12/fake-calls-about-your-ssn

https://www.medicare.gov/forms-help-resources/help-fight-medicare-fraud

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/fraud/

https://bfsfcu.org/post/irs_and_ssa_fraud_alert.html?psrc=166



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