The New York State Office for Aging has designated Washington County Office for Aging and Disabilities Resource Center as the official area agency on aging under the Federal Older Americans Act. Funding for services is made possible through federal and state grants, as well as, the Washington County Board of Supervisors.
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Gail S. Ennis, the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration (SSA), is advising the public about the latest development involving Social Security-related scams that use fraudulent SSA letterhead to feign legitimacy and gain trust to target individuals for money or personal information.
Scammers are using U.S. mail delivery to send fraudulent letters, advising the recipient to call a toll-free number to activate an increase in SSA benefits, such as a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). The letters appear to be from an SSA official and are designed to look like real SSA letterhead; however, they are not from SSA.
Inspector General Ennis is reminding the public that the COLA is automatic for all SSA beneficiaries and does not require activation. Beneficiaries can view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.
Inspector General Ennis previously warned about scammers using the real names of SSA and OIG officials—many of which are publicly available on the Internet. Common tactics include scammers citing “badge numbers” of law enforcement officers, sending emails with attachments containing real personal information about a fake “investigation,” or phishing for personal information by texting links to click on and “learn more” about a Social Security-related problem.
Recognizing the signs of a scam can help you avoid falling victim to one. It’s a scam if someone:
“Social Security will never threaten, scare, or pressure you to take an immediate action,” Inspector General Ennis said. “If you receive a suspicious call, text message, email, or letter hang up immediately or ignore the message. Visit ssa.gov and contact SSA directly if you have ongoing business to resolve.”
Inspector General Ennis also advises that if you owe money to Social Security, SSA will mail you a letter with payment options and appeal rights. SSA will also send a letter to notify beneficiaries about the COLA; however, it is automatic and does not require activation.
Visit our website https://oig.ssa.gov to report Social Security-related scams. Our scam awareness page provides more information about scams and past alerts. Follow SSA OIG on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information. Please share this information with your friends and family to help protect them from Social Security-related scams.
Members of the public are encouraged to report suspected Social Security fraud to the OIG at https://oig.ssa.gov.
Through Washington County NY Connects, the Washington County Office for Aging’s Adult Services Unit received a referral about suspected financial exploitation of an elderly woman by her caregivers. It was alleged that the caregivers were stealing the elderly woman’s Social Security benefit, $17,000 cash, and had opened several credit cards in her name. Inaddition it was alleged that the caregivers were neglecting her basic needs,isolating her from others, and being emotionally abusive towards her.
The investigation required a team of professionals to get this woman justice, but it was Case Worker Heather Jett’s determination and drive that made sure everyone received the right information needed to hold the perpetrators accountable, and to assist the woman in receiving $17,000 in victim compensation from the NYS Office of Victim Services.
With Barbara’s consent, we are able to share her story with you: