USA Today reported last week that thieves are stealing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments from their rightful recipients, since the Social Security Administration (SSA) switched to an electronic payment system earlier this year.
According to USA Today, there have been nearly 40,000 reports of direct deposit fraud this year, where thieves have been having benefits rerouted from victim banking account onto prepaid debit cards. One victim, Trudie Prevatt, of Fort Myers, Fla., told USA Today that she received a letter from the SSA thanking her for setting up an online account.
“I never set up a Social Security account online,” Prevatt told USA Today. Prevatt called the SSA and was asked to verify her address and found out that the one on file was listed in Miami. “They told me it was too late to stop the check from going to Miami,” Prevatt said.
A potential loss of $17.4 million because of unauthorized direct deposit payments is the current estimate for a nine-month period under review by auditors for the Inspector General’s office, according to USA Today, who reported that the figure is expected to grow.
Some politicians have expressed concern over allowing benefits to be placed on prepaid debit cards. “Allowing private prepaid debit cards to accept federal benefits just doesn’t make sense,” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said to the Fort Myers News-Press. “Especially when the government has a preferred debit card of its own that folks can use and it generally offers lower fees and greater consumer protections than private prepaid cards.”
The SSA said earlier this year that the switch to electronic payments would save American taxpayers $1 billion over the next 10 years, so the benefits may outweigh the risks. Remember, to help avoid theft, you should never give your information to someone who is not an SSA employee. If you receive your benefits via mail, you can switch them to the electronic service by calling 1-800-333-1795 or visiting www.GoDirect.org.
If you think you qualify for benefits, contact a Tulsa Social Security disability attorney today for help. We offer free consultations, and you can reach us by phone at (918) 587-0050.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers