Social Security fraud is having a major comeback for many South Florida residents, as thieves are stepping up from pilfering checks in the mail box, to intercepting SS payments through the social security government website. Taking names, birthdates, and ID numbers from the federal website, the thieves can use the information to open online bank accounts and redirect payments from the Social Security Administration.
Lois Johnston of Homestead found out just how easy it was to steal her Social security payments last September, when she checked her bank account and found no deposit.
“The Social Security office said my deposit had been made as usual, but on closer scrutiny they realized it wasn’t to my account,” recalls Johnston. “The agency rectified the deposit in a few days, but it’s scary that thieves could so easily commit this fraud.”
The feds have stepped up effort to prevent this fraud. According to report,s the US Attorney office have made several arrests, including a Lauderdale Lakes man charged last month with redirecting over $300,000 in Social Security payments to his personal bank account.
Devon Patrick, a North Miami Beach fraud investigator cautions South Floridian seniors to be particular vigilant against identity theft.
“It’s no joke that South Florida has the highest rate of ID theft in Florida, which has the highest incidents of ID theft in the e United States,” says Patrick. South Florida is particularly vulnerable as so many agencies have access to the senior citizens ID information. “There are people who are offered large sums to sell seniors ID information. It cannot be stressed too emphatically how careful everyone must be with their ID information.”
The Social Security and the IRS caution South Floridians to be weary of websites that request one’s ID information, and to not place this information on cell-phones.