Watch out for identity theft in the wake of a storm
Thursday, October 02, 2008
SCAM: North Carolina residents who receive monthly checks for Social Security or Supplemental Security Income by mail could become victims of identity theft if they get hit by a hurricane or other natural disaster. People evacuating their homes may leave behind checks in their mailboxes, which are vulnerable to theft. If people aren’t able to return home soon after the storm, they may have trouble getting their checks because the post office doesn’t know where to forward them. This can leave vulnerable residents cut off from their financial support.
TIPS: If you receive monthly checks from the government, direct deposit is the safest and most convenient way for you to get your money. It eliminates the risk of stolen or delayed checks, reduces the opportunity for fraud, and gives you immediate access to your money from virtually anywhere.
To sign up for direct deposit for Social Security, call the Go Direct helpline at (800) 333-1795, visit www.GoDirect.org or visit your local bank or Social Security Administration office. For people without bank accounts, the Direct Express card – a prepaid debit card – offers another safe and easy way to get your Social Security payments. To sign up for the card, call (888) 212-9991 or visit www.USDirectExpress.com online.
If you have been a victim of stolen federal checks, please contact local law enforcement and the Social Security Administration.