Have you gotten calls saying your Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity, and that you have to call to have it reinstated?
Many of us immediately know this is a scam and we either ignore it or report them to the FTC.
What if you are retired and living on a fixed income mainly provided by your Social Security benefits?
The fear that you may lose your source of income may overcome your more rational thoughts and make you respond to these calls.
People of older generations may not consider that someone would impersonate a government employee.
It happened to one elderly woman in the year after her husband’s death. She was living alone and in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
A fraudster tricked into giving away her own Social Security number and the SSNs of every one of her adult children. As a result, one of her daughter’s credit was ruined because of fraudulent activity under her Social Security number.
If a fraudster can’t obtain personal information from you, he’s probably trying to see how much money he can get out of you in the short term.
A story in the Washington Post illustrates how damaging these Social Security scams can be. Once your bank account is emptied, there is often no way to get back that money.
Social Security Fraud is a Felony
Any time anyone is trying to get something through misrepresentation, he is committing fraud. Scamming people by impersonating a Social Security Administration employee is one way.
There are several other types of Social Security fraud:
- Bribery of a Social Security Administration employee.
- Misuse of benefits by a representative payee.
- Concealment of facts that affect eligibility to receive Social Security benefits.
- Failing to notify the agency of the death of a beneficiary to continue to receive benefits.
- Filing a claim under someone else’s Social Security number.
- Buying and selling Social Security cards.
- Making false statements on Social Security claims.
- Assisting someone else in making a false statement to receive part of the benefit in return
Penalties for Social Security Fraud
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 expanded the penalties for Social Security fraud to include conspirators to commit fraud.
If you directly misrepresent yourself in some way, whether by impersonating someone else or by misrepresenting a disability, you can be charged with a felony and fined up to $10,000 for each violation and sent to prison for five years.
If you facilitate Social Security fraud, it is also a felony.
You can be fined up to $250,000 and sent to jail for up to 10 years if you facilitate fraud in a position of trust, such as doctor, translator, claimant representative or a current or former employee of the Social Security Administration.
What to Do About Scams
If you are receiving threatening calls from someone claiming to be from the Social Security office, you can report the information to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271.
Please read the Washington Post article about how to assist your elderly relatives and how to spot evidence someone is being scammed.
Michigan Social Security Fraud Attorney
If you are under investigation or have been charged with Social Security fraud, you will need an experienced federal attorney.
Call my office today for a free consultation.