LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A finance expert has a stark warning about scammers trying to collect Social Security checks.
In 2021, the Social Security Administration received more than 568,000 scam reports totaling more than $63.6 million in losses to victims. This year, the agency has received more than 31,000 social security-related scam complaints.
"The scam involves a phone call from someone posing as a local or government official," said Brad Zucker with SMA Wealth Management. "They may even use robocalls and follow up with emails or texts to convince you that they are investigating you."
Zucker said that scammers will claim your social security number has been compromised or has been suspended for fraudulent activity, then they try to get the victim’s personal information to reroute their social security payments to a different account. Scammers may also demand money through Paypal, Venmo or even cryptocurrency.
"Don't fall for these tricks!" Zucker said. "If you are suspicious of the person on the other end of the line, hang up and report the call to the social security administration."
Zucker also advises people to know who is on the other line of the call. He said to always ask the person to verify who they are and write down his or her name.
The social security administration does occasionally contact recipients, but it is rare. The administration will not ask for a payment by gift card or prepaid debit cards. Representatives will likely deduct from future payments or accept a check.
Protecting personal information is also important.
"Don’t give out your social security number to just anyone," Zucker said. "If it’s being used to verify who you are, ask if you can give just the last four numbers rather than your full social security number."
Another tip is to change passwords often to make it harder for scammers to get into personal accounts. However, when changing a password, experts advise using different passwords for each account because if one site is hacked, then that scammer could potentially have information for all of the other accounts.
Finally, checking financial credit reports on a regular basis is a good way to avoid getting scammed. Americans can take advantage of the free credit report entitled once a year. If there are any problems, contact the credit bureaus and ask to put a fraud alert or credit freeze on your accounts.
Social security is designed to replace about 40 percent of one's income. Most people will need at least 80 percent of their pre-retirement income to maintain the lifestyle they want in retirement.
Financial experts determine a client’s individual financial picture by examining seven different areas: principal, the liquidity of their money, taxes, the return or growth of their money, income planning, long-term care costs and probate avoidance. These seven areas help create a comprehensive financial road map that will safely guide clients through retirement.