WNYT.com

Senator Chuck Schumer is fighting scam artists who are targeting the social security system

Posted at: 10/14/2012 8:15 AM
Updated at: 10/14/2012 11:43 PM
By: Dan Bazile

ALBANY - Direct deposit may be a convenient way to get paid. But the electronic system has recently become a threat to thousands of seniors across the country, according to Senator Chuck Schumer.

According to the senator, “There are lots of ways to scam the system. But every one of them could be stop dead in its tracks by one simple word; notification.”

Since May of 2011, any new social security recipient is required to set up direct deposit. But everyone will have to do the same by May of 2013. It was supposed to reduce cost and prevent thieves from grabbing the checks in your mailbox. But instead he says crooks are now ripping you off right from the source.

Senator Schumer says it’s simple. ”With minimal information, social security number, your name and birth date, a criminal can call the social security administration and the payments are re-routed to their accounts.”

He says typically thieves gain access to the victim's bank account number through fake lottery and sweepstakes.

“Sometimes they'll call up and say oh, my father's ill, he's had a stroke. Please send the check to my bank.”

So far, more than 19,000 victims across the country have come forward. Senator Schumer sent a letter to the social security administration on Sunday, asking the agency to verify changes made to accounts by phone, or e-mail to make sure what many seniors consider a lifeline, isn't taken away from them.

He says, “The social security administration should not do it no questions asked. It’s very simple for them to simply verify.”