Retirement Blog

Finance Blogs » Retirement Blog » Social Security fraud alert

Social Security fraud alert

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, August 19, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

If you haven't signed up for a personal account, do it now. Don't give a crook a chance to sign up as you.

A year ago, Social Security launched the My Social Security online portal at, which gives participants of any age information about their personal Social Security and Medicare accounts. At this year's recent meeting with the consumer Social Security Advisory Board, the administration warned that a small number -- fewer than 1 percent -- of the accounts have been created by fraudsters who opened a My Social Security account using information that belongs to someone else.

These crooks can use the portal to change the beneficiary information, directing Social Security payments to a different bank account -- one to which they have access. Social Security says this is most likely to happen to those who are "elderly, ill or nontech-savvy." Even if a participant isn't yet receiving Social Security payments, having this information stolen can be problematic, Social Security says, because it  allows a crook to receive a benefit verification letter and future retirement benefit information.

Setting up one of these retirement planning accounts requires that you provide personal information and create a password. The password is constructed in a way that is more complex than most people use for other purposes. Once you've done it, the likelihood that someone will be able to break into your account is low.

Only one account per Social Security number is permitted, so if you have never set one up and are unable to do so, Social Security recommends that you either call (800) 772-1213 or go in person to your local Social Security office for help.

Social Security will never send or email you an invitation asking you to sign up for a My Social Security account, but crooks may try this route to get your personal information. The administration says not to trust any link that purports to be from Social Security that doesn't END in .gov/.

Bankrate wants to hear from you and encourages comments. We ask that you stay on topic, respect other people's opinions, and avoid profanity, offensive statements, and illegal content. Please keep in mind that we reserve the right to (but are not obligated to) edit or delete your comments. Please avoid posting private or confidential information, and also keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

By submitting a post, you agree to be bound by Bankrate's terms of use. Please refer to Bankrate's privacy policy for more information regarding Bankrate's privacy practices.
September 24, 2013 at 8:16 am

These stories are so sad. It's hard to believe there are so many people that take advantage of the elderly or people with limited resources. Get help ! Call the fraud department of your local DA's office. Get a trustworthy relative or friend to help, or someone from church, etc.

Good luck to all of you !

September 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm

The SSA requires answers to many questions to set up an on-line account. IF YOU DO NOT need such an account, but want to prevent fraudulent access to your account, then log in, supply the information requested, then answer the four questions WRONG. You will be given a notice that the web account access has been locked for 24 hours.

Tomorrow, do the same thing again, exactly, with wrong answers. You will again be given a lockout message. The magic here is that you will have a PERMANENT lockout. You will NOT be able to sign up online. You will need to go to your local SSA office to sign up if you need to.

The beauty is that no one else will be able to fraudulently sign up for you either. The account will be permanently locked out. This DOES NOT affect the monthly benefits, only the online account access.

You could also actually sign up if you wish, by answering the questions correctly, but use the above if you don't want internet access at all.

August 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm

To Danielle, file a lawsuit against this exe that did this to you. Once this person is in jail , you can get papers from the judge that says you are not liable for these debts.. the other people are right to do as they suggested. More than likely, you will win, if it goes to court.. The judge will see to that..

rose shelton
August 25, 2013 at 3:57 pm

daniealle,and I have same issues pretty much ex husband and his brothers are using my social security number and in fact a;ll of my id to ruin my credit and takje things that are not theres even to having them come to my mail box and removing them when I forget to get the mail on time tey live close and have friends who are next door neighbors..i feel like a prisioner in my own is drug ridden aresa ful;l of teen gangs and they even come into my house to steal ..usually it is when I am not in the house but sometimes I hear my dog bark and they are trying to come in and me here,,i have my identity stolen far my ss checks and va pension are ok my is watching out for me I keep close tabs on things but the credit problem is out of control..yet I fear that they if desperate will start to get this and start cashing checks or harm seems to escalate..please confirm all things as you are doing a good job with meso far..yet they know everything about me from birth on..only thing that they haven't stolen is finger prints..note that
suspect grant smith and louie smith and a person nickname buckeye last name ball

August 25, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Marqus, you can report it to the Social Security Administration. If you are able to prove that the money was not spent on you, she has to pay it back to Social Security plus intrest, just like any other goverment agency if she doesnt they will garnish her wages, place a lean on her bank accounts and properties and if needed put her in prision

August 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Danielle Ortwein, You can also contact the credit bureaus and have a freeze alert placed on your credit report, which will require any creditor to contact you personally to verify that you are the one trying to obtain the credit

August 25, 2013 at 1:42 pm

File a police report IMMEDIATELY - your ex may not be the only one using your SS#. Also, join lifelock or something similar who monitors your credit. They alert you immediately when something is charged or an account is opened or even when your credit is run.
Write to the reporting agencies showing that you have a police report and you contest the charges that aren't yours.
If you do all that then when you apply to a low income housing and your credit shows the negative- it will show contested, give a copy of the police report- normally then your application will be accepted- as you have proof the negative isn't your responsibility. (as long as all the other requirements are met)
Good Luck

Danielle Ortwein
August 25, 2013 at 12:56 pm

My ex boyfriend stole my Social Securety number and has been running it up with bad credit that I didnt othorize for the past six years. I have called the companys I found on my credit report and those from creditors I got in the mail to explain that the charges were not made by me, and to ask that they remove the bad charges from my credit. But these companys just call me a lier and refuse to remove it. And then the seven year removal, every time one of my exs bad charges are removed several more apear on my credit. Im low income and I cant even get into low income housing because of my bad credit that my ex ruined. And because of this I cant aford to live. Someone please tell me how I can fix my credit and keep my ex from destroying it without having to spend money I dont have to fix it.I would be very grateful.

August 25, 2013 at 3:12 am

what can i do to get back the money that me x wife took from my disability check & gave the money to her son who got 4 DUI and one of the DUI was a 9 years old boy was hunt

August 25, 2013 at 3:08 am

my x-wife was a Payee for me for 3 years and got away with taking my disability check and gaving it to her son who got 3 DUI.
so is that right ?

also i had a Heart Attack in 2009 & it took me x wife 4 days to take me 5 mile to the hospital !
and when she did, This what me x wife to the Dr. at the hospital
She told them that NO ONE TOLD HER (X WIFE) WHAT A HEART ATTACT WAS OR WHAT TO DO ?and the court did not do one thing to her (X-WIFE)