MoneyWise Live | April 2, 2019

Scammers Target Seniors

Show Notes

Just when authorities warn us about one scam targeted at senior citizens, the crooks come up with another one. There’s no doubt.  If you’re an elderly person, bad people want to separate you from your money.  The latest is yet another ruse involving Social Security and tricking the elderly into giving up personal information. Rob West has these details for us:

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  Well, you can add to that, “If someone’s calling you on the phone with a scary story and wants you to do something right away— don’t. It’s probably fake.”

The Federal Trade Commission is warning seniors now about a new scam that tries to get seniors to give out their Social Security numbers in order to keep getting their benefits.

How exactly does it work?

  • A scammer makes a call to a senior and pretends to be from the Social Security Administration. 
  • He tells the senior that their Social Security number has been linked to a crime.
  • Then they tell the senior that their Social Security account has been suspended for illegal activity. 
  • The senior can have it reactivated by confirming the number over the phone.
  • Sometimes the scammer will also say the reactivation requires sending a fee.
  • In another version of the scam, the crook tells the senior that their Social Security number has been used to open fraudulent credit card accounts and that their bank is about to freeze their accounts.

Some points to always remember:

  • The Social Security Administration will NEVER call you and ask for your Social Security number. They already have it. 
  • Your phone’s caller ID might actually indicate that it’s the Social Security Administration calling— and even show the real number— 800-772-1213— but don’t fall for it. It’s still fake. Scammers can use computers to make caller ID show anything they want now. So don’t trust what you see there.
  • Never give your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you in this way— not even the last 4 digits. 
  • Never give your bank account or credit card number to anyone who calls you asking for it.
  • If someone tells you to wire money, pay for something with a gift card or send cash someplace— it’s a scam. 

Next, Rob and Steve answer these questions at 800-525-7000 or via email at Questions@MoneyWiseLive.org:

  • How do you know if you're in the financial position to buy a house?
  • If you bought a house and put 55% down, and were asked to pay PMI on it because of your credit score, should you look into getting it taken off the loan?
  • If you did a lot of stealing when you were young, how literal should you take the Bible when you read that you "reap what you sow"?
  • If you and your husband are participating in the "snow ball" debt reduction, should you just pay a $3,000 credit card debt in one sum or pay it on a month-to-month basis?
  • If you've had financial problems because of a divorce and addiction problems brought on by depression and have accumulated debt around $65,000, should you consider bankruptcy to relieve debt and eliminate your child support arrearages?

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