Legal Aid's Senior Scam Alert Newsletter
PLEASE NOTE CORRECTED DATE: On Wednesday, May 18th, tune in to KALW radio's "Your Legal Rights," to hear Legal Aid's Jay White discuss scams and other security issues of concern to seniors with host Chuck Finney.
"Your Legal Rights" airs live on May 18th, from 7:00-8:00 pm, at KALW 91.7 FM, and is available online at

Part of my work here at The Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County is to make sure you are aware of scams out there so you can protect yourself and help spread the word.

Every month I'm going be sending you information about the scams I have been made aware of.

If a senior you know needs legal advice or counsel about a scam,
please don't hesitate to call Legal Aid at 1-650-558-0915.
May 17, 2016
Social Security Disability Fraud
Scammers are trying to get personal information from people by pretending to help with applications for disability benefits and claims.

A recent alert from the Social Security Inspector General warns of this phishing scam, and - whether or not you've started an application for benefits - these scammers could contact you. They're taking a shot in the dark, hoping that you have started an application, and hoping you'll give them a little more info over the phone.

To "complete the process," they might ask you to give, or confirm, your Social Security number or bank account numbers.  If scammers get your information, they may use it for identity theft and benefit theft. So here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself:

  • Never give your Social Security number or account numbers to someone who calls you.
  • Don't wire money or send money using a prepaid debit card. In fact, never pay someone who calls you out of the blue.
  • If you have disability benefits, regularly check their status, and review your statements to make sure they're right.
  • Should you be pressured to provide your information, that's a sure sign of a scam. Hang up immediately and report it to the Social Security Administration Fraud Hotline 1-800-772-1213.

If you think your identity has been stolen, or is danger of being stolen, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission's special web site www.

If you have questions about disability benefits, or get calls offering help with them, you can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

Caregiver Or Nanny Scam
With increasing need for adult care, nannies or other kinds of caregiver services, scammers see this as an additional source of revenue. They may victimize job seekers who have sought employment from such sites as These sites can be a convenient and efficient way to drum up business and provide a useful service. But scammers can misuse these sites.

 Details vary, but in general the scams works like this:

Someone replies to your listing on the site, saying they want to hire you to care for their child, parent or even a pet. They may have a very persuasive story that tugs at your heartstrings, such as a purported need for special items or medical equipment their loved one will require while in your care. 

They send you a check in a substantial amount to be deposited in your bank. They ask that you keep some of the money as payment for your services, and then transfer the rest to a third party, supposedly to pay for the goods that you will need while serving as a caregiver.  The scam is revealed only after the bank discovers the check is a fake.

The scammers take advantage of an unfortunate weakness in the banking business. Your bank is required to promptly make money available to you after a deposit in your account. But it may take several days for the bank to determine the check is phony. If you have already withdrawn any of the money, you are on the hook to repay the bank. If you have already transferred money to the third party, it's gone.

This is a variation of the old "You have won the Lottery" scam in which the victim  receives and deposits a phony check in some large amount but ends up owing a bank for money withdrawn or forwarded to the scammer for a purported use such as "Payment of US Taxes".

Identity Theft Report
The US Federal Trade Commission is a consumer watchdog agency that urges reports of any identity theft such as wrongful use of a victim's Social Security number.  It has a website that allows a report to be made on line:

Anyone who is victim, or believes he or she is a victim, can submit a report online at no cost. 

The Federal Trade Commission has enforcement authority. It can take legal action to shut down a scam operation.  In addition, in a limited number of cases, it can help a victim recover money taken by scammers.
Courtesy Scambusters

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