The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

June 8, 2013

Social Security: Dads, don't get hooked by 'phishing' scams

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The Daily Star

---- — This month, in honor of fathers everywhere, I want to share this article written by a fellow Social Security employee:

This Father’s Day, you may be inclined to spend some quality time with Dad, maybe take him out camping or fishing. But try to make sure that nobody else tries to “phish” with you or your father.

These days, all people (including fathers and sons) need to be cautious of scams — Internet, mail, and even phone scams — which can damage your credit score and wallet. Scam artists have become shrewd. Any time someone asks for your personal information, you should be wary. Particularly cruel are swindlers who target Social Security beneficiaries. 

As a rule of thumb, Social Security will not call or email you for your personal information such as your Social Security number or banking information. If someone contacts you and asks for this kind of information and claims to be from Social Security, do not give out your personal information without first contacting Social Security to verify the validity of the person contacting you. It could be an identity thief on the other end phishing for your personal information. Just call the local Social Security office, or Social Security’s toll-free number at (800) 772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778).

If you receive a suspicious call, please report it to the Fraud Hotline. Reports may be made online at www.socialsecurity.gov/fraudreport/oig/public_fraud_reporting/form.htm or by telephone at (800) 269-0271. The phone line is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time; online reports can be made any time. Please include the following details:

The alleged suspect(s) and victim(s) names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers;

Description of the fraud and the location where the fraud took place;

When and how the fraud was committed;

Why the person committed the fraud (if known); and

Who else has knowledge of the potential violation. 

Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America. If you, your father, or anyone you know has been the victim of an identity thief, the place to contact is the Federal Trade Commission at www.idtheft.gov. Or, call 877-IDTHEFT (877-438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261. 

Some people who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits are victimized by misleading advertisers. Such companies offer Social Security services for a fee, even though the same services are available directly from Social Security free of charge.

Especially upsetting are such ads that make it appear as though the ad has come directly from Social Security. By law, such advertisements must indicate that the company is not affiliated with Social Security.

If you or your dad see what you believe is misleading advertising for Social Security services from a company that does not admit it is not affiliated with Social Security, send the complete mailing, including the envelope, to: Office of the Inspector General, Fraud Hotline, Social Security Administration, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235. Also, advise the state’s attorney general or consumer affairs office and the Better Business Bureau. You can visit the Office of the Inspector General online at http://oig.ssa.gov and select the “Fraud, Waste, or Abuse” link. 

Learn more about identity theft at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10064.html. Read about misleading advertising at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10005.html.

And finally, while you’re enjoying the right kind of fishing with Dad this Father’s Day, you may want to tell him about Extra Help with Medicare prescription drug costs. If your father is covered by Medicare and has limited income and resources, he may be eligible for Extra Help — available through Social Security — to pay part of his monthly premiums, annual deductibles and prescription co-payments. We estimate that the Extra Help is worth about $4,000 per year. That kind of savings buys a lot of bait and tackle. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp.

Tracey W. Marmet is district manager of the Oneonta office of the Social Security Administration. Other ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.