Figuring out Social Security and Medicare taxes and benefits can be confusing for taxpayers, and progressively, taxpayers are turning online and also to professionals for support. Alas, the Social Security Administration (SSA) warns that some taxpayers seeking advice are also being taken advantage of thieves and scammers. Here's what you will need to understand.
First, there is a law which bars individuals or non-government companies from using words or emblems that fool others. That includes advertisements which may lead folks to believe they represent, are somehow affiliated with or supported or accepted by Social Security or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Medicare).
How do you tell the difference between individuals along with the real thing? According to the SSA, a few scammers will provide Social Security services for a fee, even though the same services are available directly from Social Security without any charge. These services include getting:
- A corrected Social Security card revealing an individual's married name;
- A Social Security card to replace a lost card
- A Social Security Statement; along with
- A Social Security number to get a kid.
A fast word of excuse is warranted. When these services could be free of the authorities, there can be legitimate associated expenses, such as time and postage. There is something to be said for experience, in addition to time saved by somebody who has expertise. A company such as a law firm or accounting firm that might help you with getting a replacement card ought to be compensated for their services, just as a tax pro might charge a fee to file an extension for you--even though there's no cost from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to file for an extension. The distinction is that there should be no fee for the underlying entity --for instance, the replacement card--and it must be made clear to you that you can obtain the card on your own for free. Additionally, any extra fees should be clearly stated.
How can you protect yourself? Do not be tricked by anyone claiming to use or for Social Security or Medicare as an independent, private business enterprise. Don't be mislead by advertisements claiming that professionals will get you better or faster results if you use their services (by way of example, a company that purports to provide you with a replacement card within an expedited basis). And do not cover services which need to be free. If you're not sure what you are paying for, then ask for a breakdown of the charges upfront.
Taxpayers will also be encouraged to remain awake for an ongoing telephone scam out of thieves pretending to be away from the SSA. As part of this scam, similar to the IRS phone scam, scammers try to persuade you to give up private information, like Social Security numbers and bank account numbers, on the telephone. In another instance, a caller claims to be in"SSA headquarters" and asks you to verify personal data, such as an SSN," new" Medicare number, address, and date of birth.
The Acting Inspector General of Social Security,'' Gale Stallworth Stone, has warned people to be wary, and to prevent supplying details such as your SSN or bank account numbers to unidentified persons over the phone or internet unless you are certain of who's getting it. "Be conscious of suspicious calls from unknown sources, and when in doubt, get in touch with the official thing to validate the validity of the call," Stone said.
When in doubt, assume it's a scam. If you are unsure whether a call is valid, hang up and call back with an official amount (do not simply use the caller ID number in your phone because those may be spoofed).
If you know that it is a scam, don't participate with scammers or thieves, even in the event that you want to inform them that you know it is a scam, or you believe that you can bust them. Simply hang up.