Consumer Handbook: Social Security Living Adjustment Scams
Each year, the Social Security Administration approves a cost-of-living adjustment for recipients of Social Security benefits and Supplementary Security Income. Due to inflation, payments can increase by 8.7% this year. It’s a significant increase – the highest COLA approved in more than 40 years – and scammers are taking advantage. If you or a loved one receive Social Security benefits, stay alert to the signs of a scam.
Scammers contact you by phone, text, or email. This “Social Security Administration representative” claims you must apply for your cost-of-living increase. They might ask you to visit a website, send information via text or email, or speak with them on the phone to get the benefit. The scammer will ask you to verify your identity by sharing personal details, such as your full name, address, or Social Security number. They may even ask for your bank account information, claiming that the representative will deposit the extra money directly into your account.
In any case, if you give your information to the person in question, they will have gained access to your most sensitive personal information, making you susceptible to identity theft. If you give up your banking information, they may even be able to gain access to your money.
Remember, the SSA’s COLA is automatic. You don’t need to do anything to receive the increase in benefits. If someone tells you otherwise, you’re likely dealing with a scammer.
Know how the SSA communicates. According to SSA, “If there is a problem with your Social Security number, we will mail you a letter. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us.” A call, text, or email from an SSA agent out of the blue is a red flag. Don’t give in to threats. When in doubt, hang up. If you suspect you might be getting scammed, stop all communications.