Do you excel more in word-oriented games, or number-related games? Or, maybe you’re good at both; although, I’m willingly to bet most people are better at one than the other. For fraudsters, the game is all about numbers – from how many false forms to file, to how much return you get, to how many years in jail you face. This game of numbers has taken a toll on innocent victims all over our nation, who are now demanding the government do something to stop the statistics from rising, according to a WPTV.com article.
A number of fraud schemes have taken to the streets targeting U.S. residents, who are often incognizant of the crime surrounding them. As an “innocent,” how should you spot fraudulent behavior without being privy to the plethora of scams slithering through our nation? (It may seem like common sense, but a good rule is…when in doubt, don’t give out your personal identification information!) Officials nationwide are hard at work fighting fraud, whether fraudsters live within our nation’s borders or in other countries like the organized criminal group from Jamaica, reported in the article. (“Don’t worry, be happy,” is more like, “Don’t worry, make money.”) The goal is to spread knowledge about scams like the recently popular bait-and-switch telephone solicitation, noticing a need for a few pointers to broadcast when it comes to fraud.
Looking deeper into the bait-and-switch method, it’s plain to see why fraudsters target elders receiving Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits with this scam. Here’s how it works: fraudsters call or email their elderly victims using deceptive tactics, such as claiming to be part of a lottery or sweepstakes. They also impersonate government agencies and programs, such as the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Medicare program. In so doing, the fraudsters ask the elderly for their personal identification information, and use that to switch the deposit of their Social Security benefits into a bank account controlled by the fraudster, or onto prepaid debit cards. (Targeting the elders – classy move.)When the SSA notices the switch, they are required to send a notification letter to the individual of the switched account, verifying that the individual has indeed request the switch. Unfortunately, many people just ignore these letters. (I don’t get it – if you receive a letter saying your money is going into an account that isn’t yours, shouldn’t you be worried about the numbers?!)
WTPV.com’s article revealed that since May 2012, 45 new allegations of direct deposit changes are being received by the SSA each day involving unauthorized changes. In addition, 29,000 allegations of direct deposit changes have been submitted since January 2012. With numbers this high, officials are taking action to educate our citizens with a few reminders such as: 1) be aware of phishing and lottery schemes, 2) never provide your personally identifiable information to unsolicited phone calls or contacts, 3) never accept prepaid debit cards in another person’s name and 4) check your credit reports regularly to ensure you are not a victim of fraud, just to name a few. (Life really is a game of numbers – and when it comes to fraud victims, we’d like to keep those numbers as low as we can get them.)
Crossword puzzles and numbers games can be fun and challenging, but the most important game of numbers happens to be my bank account. It’s a game I’d like to be a sole participant in, without a fraudster looking to snake my earnings.