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The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a new email scam involving Social Security benefits.
According to the BBB, scammers are sending emails which appear to be from the Social Security Administration claiming that the recipient is eligible for new benefits. The email provides a link to an online form, instructing consumers to fill out the form in order to obtain the new benefits. However, those who do may be setting themselves up for possible identity theft.
Scammers Use Personal Information to Redirect Benefits
According to a fraud advisory issued by the Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration regarding the email scam, thieves use the scam to obtain the information necessary to create accounts on the SSA website. The scammers then use the victim's account information to redirect benefit payments to the scammers' own accounts.
In a variation of the scam also reported to the BBB, scammers may also be calling consumers and asking them to update or verify their personal information over the phone.
How to Identify the Scam
The most telling sign that the emails are a scam is the use of e-mail itself. Government agencies will typically communicate through regular mail as opposed to contacting you by email or by telephone. As in previous scams, any time you are contacted by someone purporting to be from a government agency by phone or email, you should be suspicious.
In general, links and attachments included in suspicious email messages should not be clicked or opened. Even sites that appear legitimate can be used to steal your personal information, and attachments may contain viruses or other types of malware designed to steal your information.
What to Do If You Suspect You're Being Scammed
Here's what the SSA's Office of the Inspector General recommends: If you receive a call or an email requesting personal information from someone purporting to be with the Social Security Administration, contact the SSA directly to verify that person's legitimacy. You can call the SSA toll-free at (800) 772-1213.
You can also report suspicious activity involving your Social Security accounts and the Social Security program at (800) 269-0271 or online via this link.