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Delayed Social Security Benefits

How the scam works:

In the first days of November, Hurricane Sandy battered the east coast of the United States, leaving thousands without power, many of those without any shelter whatsoever.

Various aid organizations have been working tirelessly to repair the damage wrought by the storm and to help citizens get their lives back to normal. Sadly though, there are scammers that are attempting to take advantage of the chaos caused by the storm.

Callers claiming to be the Social Security Administration (SSA) are targeting SS benefit recipients and are advising them their checks will be delayed due to the power outages and damage in the wake of the storm. They are then asking the victims to verify their social security information.

Of course, the calls aren’t legitimate and the victims have just given the scammers the key to stealing their identities.

New Yorkers are also advised to beware of scam artists claiming to represent the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Criminals are even walking door to door to convince victims they need to pay a fee to the federal agency.

How to avoid:

Be aware that the SSA, FEMA, or NFIP, will never ask for social security numbers, nor do they make unsolicited calls for any reason. The best offense in this case is a good defense; never give personal identifying information over the telephone to anyone. Also, if you do receive calls claiming to be government agencies hang up the phone and call the agency in question yourself to verify that the call is legitimate. Any time there is a natural disaster scammers seem to crawl out of the woodwork. People who have been affected by the storm should be extra vigilant in verifying callers asking for their personal information, whatever the reason.

If you believe you are victim of this scam, call the FEMA Fraud Hotline at 800-323-8603 or call the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846.

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