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A Senate hearing Wednesday put the spotlight on Social Security scams that are costing Americans millions of dollars a year. In the last three months alone, the Social Security Administration reports they’ve gotten nearly 115,000 complaints.

Machel and Kyle Anderson became victims of a scam after getting a phone call in December. Machel said she was told her Social Security number had been compromised and had been used to set up “multiple bank accounts associated with a drug cartel.”
Thinking she needed to transfer money to an off-shore account that would be safe, she wired $150,000. It wasn’t until later that she realized it was a scam.

“I felt like throwing up. I just felt this gut punch and I felt sick,” Kyle Anderson said.

Machel Anderson testified about her experience before the Special Committee on Aging.

“In hindsight, I realize there were many signs that I should have recognized,” she told lawmakers. “But the scammers had me so worked up, they told me that I had to be convincing or I would end up getting arrested. They even sent me fake arrest warrants.”

Anderson is not alone. The FBI warns that scammers are becoming more sophisticated, often targeting elderly victims.

If you get a call, the most important thing you can do is simply hang up. The FBI says never send money or gift cards to someone you don’t know, and never give out your personal information, banking information or social security number.

In addition, the Federal Trade Commission says there are ways you can learn to spot scammers. Like the Andersons’ case, scammers may pose as a government official or a family member. The FTC warns not to believe the caller ID since the number you see may not be real.

If you get a call, you can report it to the FTC.

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Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.

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