15 Aug 2016
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has set a convenient online service called My SocialSecurity for retirees and others on social security to check their earnings history, benefits, change their address, or how they receive benefits. It even supports two-factor authentication. Unfortunately, scammers have also found two new ways to take advantage of the service and its users.
The first is a pretty typical phishing scam. The victim gets an email with a link that appears to be from the SSA, inviting them to sign up for My SocialSecurity. In reality the link sends them to a page requesting personal information that then allows scammers to steal the victim’s identity and opens them up to other scams.
The second scam involves thieves simply setting up a My SocialSecurity account in someone else’s name, possibly using information taken from the first phishing scam. Once they’ve set up the account, it’s just a simple matter of having Social Security benefits funneled into an account the scammers control.
There are a few things you can do to avoid being taken advantage of. Firstly, be careful what you click on. Never click on links in an email unless you are certain they’re legit. Second, go ahead and go to My SocialSecurity’s website and set up an account. This will beat any would be thieves to the punch.
If you want to go even further, once you’ve set up your account you can take the added step of going into the account settings and selecting the option that requires any banking changes to be done in person at a Social Security office.