If you receive Social Security benefits, watch out! Scammers may be targeting you and your money.
One Davenport man is trying to spread the word to other seniors, after he was contacted by the scammers Monday morning.
The scam is pretty slick. It's intended to prey on vulnerable seniors made all the more vulnerable by recent changes in the way many receive their Social Security checks.
Everyone was supposed to have switched from paper checks to electronic payments by March 1st of this year, and the scammers know that.
Ben Niedert got the call Monday morning. It was from a number with a Texas area code SAYING they were from the Social Security Administration.
"And then he said 'Your address is...' and he gave me my address. I said, 'That's correct.' And he said 'Your phone number now is...' and I said, 'The number you called,'" Niedert recalled of the conversation.
But then, they asked for his bank information, and this scam-savvy senior got a big red flag.
He told the caller he'd have to call him back.
"Then the line got real quiet, and I said 'Is that going to work?' and all of the sudden 'click' - the phone conversation was over," Niedert explained.
Ben Niedert was the target of a scam.
It seems obvious, right? Don't give your personal info to random strangers on the phone.
But, Niedert worries that it might not be that obvious to everyone.
"It'd be awfully easy to answer that question," he said.
That is especially true for people who receive federal benefits like Social Security and who failed to meet the March 1st deadline to make the switch to electronic payments.
Those people ARE being contacted by the U.S. Treasury Department. In that case, though, the Treasury Department is contacting them only through the mail.
"The federal government will never call you and ask for information," Brad Benson, a Public Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Treasury, said.
That said, this scam is widespread. And that is something Benson knows first hand.
"I know my mom had a call....the same kind of thing," Benson said. "People are calling seniors knowing that there's a change and thinking that they can get information from them."
Ben Niedert wants to spread the word: Do not take the bait.
"People are always looking for easy money," he warned.
Don't let yours be the money they take.
The Treasury Department has teamed up with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs to put together a short video message for federal benefit recipients with more information about how to avoid falling victim to this kind of fraud.
Click here to watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYZxOauHo_g&feature=youtube_gdata