As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Ocean County officials have joined with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to raise awareness of social security scams and other government imposter scams.
“With over 200,000 senior residents living in Ocean County, it is imperative that we inform our residents to be aware of scams so that they can protect themselves,” said Ocean County Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as Chairman of Ocean County Senior Services and Consumer Affairs. “I encourage our citizens to be vigilant and extremely cautious when asked to provide information such as your Social Security number or bank information to unknown people over the phone or the internet.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2021 there were over 396,000 complaints of government imposter scams, which led to more than $442 million being lost to scammers.
“When providing personal information, residents should make sure they are certain as to who is receiving the information,” said Vicari. “You must be very confident that the source is the correct business person and that your information is secure.”
To prevent further losses, the Social Security Administration reminds residents that government agencies will:
Never threaten arrest or legal action if someone does not immediately send money to resolve an overpayment.
Never promise to increase benefits or resolve identity theft issues for a fee or by moving money into a protected account.
Never require payment with a retail gift card, prepaid debit card, cryptocurrency, wire transfer, internet currency or by paying cash.
Send a text or email message that contained personal information.
“We always want to make sure that our residents are aware of what to look out for so that they can make smart decisions,” said the Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners John P. Kelly. “Our Departments of Senior Services and Consumer Affairs do a great job working with our residents to help them stay alert so they do not fall for these scams.”
In addition, the SSA suggests the following steps to prevent falling for a scam:
Hang up on suspicious calls from “government officials” calling about a problem with your social security number or account.
Never pay payments with gift cards, wire transfers or by mailing cash.
Report social security scams to https://oig.ssa.gov/
Report other scams to https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/
Residents can also contact the Ocean County Office of Senior Services at 732-929-2091 or the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs at 732-929-2105 for more information.