On June 3rd I last warned you about a scam that is getting into high gear regarding Social Security checks. In an attempt to make Social Security more efficient and less costly to manage, the Social Security Administration is in the process of requiring all people receiving benefits to receive their checks through automatic electronic deposits into their bank accounts. In the alternative, people without a bank account can opt to receive their benefits through payments into a Direct Express Debit MasterCard. The deadline for those people still receiving paper checks of March 1st is rapidly approaching. If you know of anyone who is receiving Social Security benefits and has not yet switched to an electronic transfer, urge them to do so by either calling 1-800-333-1795 or by going online to www.GoDirect.org. In addition, they can also make the change in person at their local Social Security office. However, anyone receiving a Social Security payment should be very aware of the scammers who will be contacting Social Security recipients by email or by phone claiming to be representatives of the Social Security Administration. They will then ask for your Social Security number, bank account number and other personal information to purportedly process your claim, however, what they really will be doing is setting the stage to steal your identity.
The Social Security Administration will not be contacting anyone by telephone or by email. If you receive any communication from someone who says that he or she is with Social Security, you can be sure that they are an identity thief. Never give your personal information to anyone unless you are sure of with whom you are communicating and you can never be sure if you receive a phone call or an email that the person communicating with you is legitimate. If you have a question about Social Security, either go to their website, call them at a phone number you know is correct or go directly in person to one of the Social Security offices. If you need to make the change to an automatic electronic payment, you can also use the phone number and website indicated above. It should also be noted that people born on May 1, 1921 or earlier can receive an automatic waiver from having to receive an electronic payment if they wish. There are other exceptions for people living in remote areas or for whom the automatic electronic payments would be a hardship. Waiver applications can be obtained by calling 1-800-333-1795.