The Norman Transcript

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September 18, 2012

Seniors must beware of scams, but educated on Social Security payment change

NORMAN — One of my biggest concerns as a consumer columnist is the vulnerability of senior citizens because scam artists always seem to target them to make a quick buck.

Add to that the vulnerability of any consumer to scam artists, who are always finding new twists to confuse or try to gain financial information.

I often say I could write about this weekly and still there would be people who fall victim to the traps. So the best I can do is educate readers and hope we help each other by watching out for our parents, neighbors and friends.

So in that vein, I want to again remind people: Don’t fall for callers who try to trick you into thinking they are with a certain bank or company or government program and all they need is your Social Security number or your bank account routing number or credit-card number to verify you or process your payment. Why would any company or organization that already has a relationship with you need to verify that information if they already have it?

More on that in a bit.

But because people are in a heightened state of watching out for potential scams, there’s a new move by the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Treasury Department that is not a scam that prompted a call from a reader recently who was concerned about a letter he received explaining the program.

So let’s discuss the move early next year away from paper checks for Social Security payments to electronic direct deposits into bank accounts or issuance of a Direct Express debit card.

Scams

Let’s first tackle the scams.

John P. Chames, a financial services professional with Western & Southern Financial Group, phoned me last week to say he was concerned about hearing from three clients in one afternoon about telephone calls they had received.

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