Warning to Senior Citizens About the Latest Social Security Scam
Recently, we’ve published two articles about Social Security: H.R. 1218 and the appointment of Representative Jodey Arrington (R-TX 19th District) to the Committee on Ways and Means, which has the most extensive legislative jurisdiction on Social Security among other issues. To increase awareness about the overall stewardship of the Social Security trust account, we conducted additional research about other individuals and groups that target Americans to raise funds to support various legislation. On occasion, the appeals may be scams. Senior citizens should reach out to the local legislators to confirm the legitimacy of any inquiry asking for financial support before sending a check.
The Association of Retired Professionals (AARP) published an article disclosing some of the latest scams that target senior citizens. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that scammers stole tens of billions of dollars from senior citizens in 2018, and they estimated Medicare fraud at $60 billion annually.
The FBI claims seniors are targeted for three main reasons: health needs, retirement savings and their willingness to trust others based on how they were brought up. Scammers target individuals who meet these characteristics, and they employ some scams such as counterfeit prescription drugs, funeral scams, telemarketing scams, sweepstakes scams, reverse mortgage scams, investment schemes, Medicare fraud and at the top of the list is mail fraud.
A popular mail fraud scam involves Social Security. Some of these allegedly fraudulent companies mail letters that violate Section 1140 of the Social Security Act to entice seniors to open the mail. The letter provides background information about the depletion of the Social Security Trust accountan actual issue—followed by a request for a small donation to support the cause to fight for the protection of Social Security.
Social Security Mail Fraud is not a new issue. There is a 2001 congressional hearing involving the Committee on Ways and Means and the U.S. Inspector General who discussed a plethora of scams that target senior citizens. Fundraising and Lobbying were included in the list of topics he addressed with the Committee on Ways and Means. He testified that the most challenging area of deceptive practices concerning mailings that target the elderly are the direct-mail fundraising solicitations. These alleged scam artists lead the victims to believe that their contribution can help sustain the fight to protect Social Security.
Although there are legitimate advocacy groups that have special interests to support legislation, it is incumbent on citizens to do their due diligence to verify the authenticity of such mailings.
If you feel you or a loved one is a victim of mail fraud, submit a Mail Fraud Request Complaint Form to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. You may stop by your local post office for additional information.