Senior Connections

Social Security Amps Up Online Safeguards to Prevent Fraud

As unfortunate as it is, fraud of all kinds is prevalent in today’s society. With just the click of a mouse, thieves can hack one’s online accounts, causing significant financial damage. One specific type of fraud that is of great concern to me is Social Security fraud. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy and as a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, I am committed to preserving Social Security for generations to come. I also recognize the importance of ensuring Social Security beneficiaries are equipped to address a situation when fraud does occur.

A great tool that can be utilized to navigate Social Security is My Social Security. Since the program became available in May 2012, nearly 26 million people have signed up. To create an account, individuals must be 18 years or older and have a social security number, valid email, U.S. mailing address, and a cell phone that receives text messages. An account can be created by visiting http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/. My Social Security provides a direct route to receive benefit verification letters, submit address and phone number changes, start or change direct deposit of an account, and acquire replacement documents for tax season.

Recently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) added an extra security layer to My Social Security to protect beneficiaries from fraud. Account holders are now required to utilize their cell phones to verify identification, in addition to their username and password. When initially signing up for the program, users are asked to input their cell phone numbers and will receive a text message with their security code to create an account. After this step, the SSA will send the user’s cell phone a new security code each time he or she logs in with a username and password to gain access. This helps the SSA determine the authenticity of the user. For beneficiaries without a cell phone with texting capabilities, the SSA has encouraged them to visit www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/contact to learn about alternative options to access their benefits information. Should you need assistance with this new aspect, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

If fraudulent activity should occur, beneficiaries can report it by calling the SSA Office of the Inspector General at (800) 269‑0271. It can also be reported at https://oig.ssa.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse. In addition, Nevadans can get in touch with their local Social Security office to speak with a Social Security representative in person by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/contact or by calling the SSA at (800) 772-1213.

I hope you find this information helpful. If you or any other Nevadan is facing difficulties with Social Security, my staff and I would be happy to assist you. To reach my Las Vegas office, please call (702) 388-6605.