Bob’s Social Security Tale, Is Yours Safe 

Social Security benefits are a lifeline for many retired Americans, providing essential income for daily needs and a comfortable retirement. The sad part is that it’s relatively easy to redirect your checks to a threat actor’s bank account. It really is a growing concern. Understanding how this can happen and how to protect yourself is crucial. 

Bob (names have been changed to protect the victim) is a 70-something retiree who had always been diligent about protecting his personal information. He kept his Social Security number safe and was cautious about sharing his personal details. Bob suddenly realized something was wrong when for the second month in a row his social security check hadn’t been deposited. The gnawing in his stomach was overwhelming. He contacted his bank and the Social Security Administration (SSA). He discovered his benefits had been redirected to an unknown bank account. Bob was a victim of a scam. 

Bob’s situation is, unfortunately, not uncommon. Scammers often use phone calls, emails, or even postal mail to impersonate SSA officials. They may ask for personal information, claiming there is an issue with your account or that you need to verify details to continue receiving benefits. Once they have your information, they can use it to change the bank account where your benefits are deposited. 

There are steps you can take to minimize the probability and the impact of this type of scam. First, guard your personal information like it was a pot of gold. Because it is. Never share your Social Security number, bank account details, or other personal information over the phone, email, or online. One way to ensure you survive a phishing attack is to contact the bank or other financial organization using a number you have called before. One you know for sure is the correct number.

Second, remember, the SSA will never call you and ask for personal information. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately without uttering a word. Occasionally the scammer will ask questions designed to get you to say the word “yes”. Then they will manipulate the audio of the call and use it nefariously.

Third, regularly check your bank account and Social Security statements for any unusual activity. If you notice anything suspicious, report it immediately. 

Fourth, if you have created an online account at enable the multifactor authentication to secure your benefits. Also, make sure the password you use here isn’t used anywhere else. Not even a permutation of the password. All the websites you use to manage your money should be secured with the strongest password the app allows, and absolutely enable multifactor authentication. 

Lastly, if you believe you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, contact the SSA and your bank immediately to report the issue and take steps to secure your accounts.

Bob’s story is a cautionary tale. It is a reminder to be vigilant and to trust no one. These simple steps will not guarantee you will never be a victim, but they WILL contribute to a more secure future. 

Any communication, regardless of the form, that causes you to feel an emotional response (urgency, catastrophe, or promise of punishment or reward) is most likely tied to a scam in some way. So, talk to someone you trust face-to-face. This can help calm you down and ensure you take careful methodical measures to resolve an issue.