It’s just about time for giving season which means it’s also time for scammers to start coming out and taking advantage of people. People with disabilities are often victims of these scams or they are exploited by people looking to make a dollar off of people’s good nature. Some disability scammers are obvious, while many have found ways to make their operations legitimate. Others operate completely below the radar, scamming and stealing without notice until payments are suddenly not making it to their respective destinations. It takes vigilance to avoid scammers, but with the right knowledge, you can spot or avoid them and protect our community members who are easier to take advantage of or exploit. At Lexington Services, we want you to be prepared Here are some strategies to spot disability scammers and stop them in their tracks.
Don’t Trust Fake Government Phone Calls
One of the most common scams now is for people to call, assuming the identity of a government official or organization. They often try to exploit your information through fear, making you believe that something is wrong with your social security benefits or that your disability payments have been halted due to a mistake on your end. They will sometimes even threaten you with police intervention, which can be particularly stressful. These scams are cruel because they play off of the trust in government organizations from the disability community or else they take advantage of the fear of losing benefits. When it comes to any disability scammers calling from government entities, keep in mind:
- The Social Security Administration (SSA) will never call you in regards to payments owed or changes in your social security payments, except in rare cases where you have already been in contact with the SSA.
- SSA employees will never ask for your social security number. Any pressure to provide this information is likely a scam.
- Disability scammers will attempt to get your financial information over the phone or email, sometimes promising a payment or refund, but this is not standard practice and you should not provide this information over the phone.
In addition, you should check your disability benefits consistently to make sure that there has not been a change. If there is, it’s possible that your information has been compromised. You need to report that immediately to the SSA Fraud Hotline or the Federal Trade Commission.
Watch Out For “Assistance With Applications”
People will often try to get your information before you even have the ability to apply for disability services or social security benefits. Some will go so far as to claim to have businesses that are designed to help you apply and get more out of these benefits. These disability scammers are not to be trusted. Often times they have obtained some type of information about people in an area with disabilities and they are hoping to stab in the dark, catching you while you are still in the application process. As with anyone claiming to be from the government, do not provide social security numbers or account information.
Look Out For False Romance
Disability scammers are also willing to take advantage of people that receive benefits through false, promised romance. This is particularly worrisome for people with autism and other developmental disabilities. The social cues that could indicate a scam are not always obvious, meaning that people with different social understanding are vulnerable. However, the reality is that any person can fall prey to a scam that exploits the human condition and the need to be loved. If you or a loved one has entered into a relationship online, watch out for people that repeatedly ask for financial assistance, no matter what they seem to need money for. People will try to take advantage of human empathy, telling stories of sick family, medical bills, financial hardship or even plans to come out and see you. These are reasons to be cautious, as they are likely just trying to get money out of vulnerable people.
Needs and Wants
Disability scammers are also willing to exploit basic human needs and wants in order to get a dollar out of vulnerable people. This can happen in the promise to provide grocery delivery for a fee, to providing crucial insurance that people aren’t aware as a scam. A common way that scammers will attempt to take money or account information is to promise a prize, a vacation, a gift card or even cash in the hopes to extract vital financial information from people.
Not all scammers want to take money from people with disabilities. Many will try to exploit their disabilities in order to take money from people that have charity in their hearts. The problem with these organizations and individuals is that they aren’t always as illegitimate as other scammers. Some people might get a call from a church or community organization asking for money for people with disabilities, but basic questioning about their location and who is in charge of the organization usually causes their pitch to crumble. However, there are organizations that exist that are just legitimate enough to avoid closure, but they don’t support the communities they claim they support. When it comes to charitable donations, make sure to check with sites like Charity Navigator before you make a donation at any time.
At Lexington Services, we realize that there are a lot of people that want to exploit the members of our community. That’s why we’re proud to be an accountability partner for people looking for answers. Looking for more information? Call 480-900-1009 today.