5 Ways to Prevent Social Security Theft

Social Security

5 Ways to Prevent Social Security Theft

Posted by COTO Insurance & Financial Services
4 years ago | March 6, 2018

We often remind our clients that waiting a bit longer, past full retirement age, can help them claim a larger monthly benefit check from Social Security. In many cases this is a smart plan. However, if the wrong person gains access to your Social Security number and realizes that you haven’t yet claimed your benefits, they might succeed in collecting that money for themselves!

This type of Social Security fraud is increasing in prevalence lately, probably due to the numerous large-scale data breaches in recent years. Once hackers (or old-fashioned criminal types, digging through your discarded mail) access your Social Security number, they can do some serious damage. Some are even filing phony benefits claims.

To add insult to injury, the IRS might even send you a 1099 tax form for those benefits, expecting you to pay taxes on them! Of course, they don’t know that you didn’t really claim your Social Security checks.

The Social Security Administration is investigating this type of fraud, and attempting to implement better safeguards against benefit theft. In the meantime, you take take these steps to protect yourself.

Guard your number. Don’t provide your Social Security number to anyone who isn’t authorized to have it. Shred your documents before throwing them in the trash, and keep your Social Security card, Medicare card, and driver’s license in a safe place.

Read all mail from Social Security immediately. When your benefits are claimed, they will send you a letter. If you know you didn’t file the claim, you can take action to stop it immediately.

Call or visit your local Social Security office when you suspect fraud. Speaking to a local representative is usually the fastest way to resolve these situations.

Report the theft to the IRS. Other types of fraud might be committed in your name, including tax fraud, so take a proactive stance by communicating with the IRS immediately.

Monitor your credit history. Often the first sign of something amiss is a credit card account that you don’t recall opening. Report any discrepancies to all three major credit bureaus.

As always, continue to schedule regular appointments with us as you plan for retirement. We can help you understand what to expect from Social Security, as well as other important considerations for your financial future.

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