Fraudsters are taking advantage of the US Social Security Administration’s increase in cost of living adjustment payments (COLA), according to the Better Business Bureau.
“Due to inflation, payment can increase by 8.7% this year,” the BBB said. “It’s a significant increase – the highest COLA approved in more than 40 years – and scammers are taking advantage.”
The latest BBB advisory aims to spread awareness of social engineering schemes where scammers contact recipients by phone, email or text, and tell their prospective victims that they need to apply for the COLA increase.
Targets are advised to provide personally identifiable information via a bogus link or directly over the phone. This includes requests for Social Security numbers, full names, addresses, and even bank account information where the payments are about to be deposited.
“Any scam that targets older adults is particularly heinous because they prey on the vulnerable,” said Matt Krueger, communications directed for the BBB of Upstate New York. “The defense against them is to know what to expect and how to react if you become a target.”
The BBB reminds Social Security beneficiaries that the administration makes all COLA payments automatically. If you’re contacted by any SSA worker who claims otherwise, you’re likely dealing with a scammer.
The SSA never contacts beneficiaries out of the blue. The organization has clearly stated that any problems regarding Social Security payments will be communicated via post.
“Generally, we will contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us,” Krueger said.
The advisory also urges Social Security recipients to stand their ground if they receive any threats via email, text, or phone, adding that the SSA will never threaten to suspend their Social Security number or arrest them if they don’t make a payment.
“Don’t give into threats, a lot of times they are going to threaten you and say that you are not going to receive your social security money,” said the BBB’s Monica Horton. “You know, that’s going to invoke some fear in some folk and that has a tendency to cloud your judgement, so know this scam is happening don’t given to threats and hang up.”
Moreover, no employee will ever ask for personally identifiable information or banking details to confirm an increase in your benefits. If you receive any such communications, end all contact immediately and notify the police and the SSA via 1-800-772-1213.
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