Most people in California depend on Social Security for financial support when they grow old or become disabled. There are a lot of eligibility requirements that a person must meet to qualify for these benefits, which sometimes is not easy to pull off. For this reason, there are individuals who will try to take advantage of the system or trick applicants into getting benefits they are not supposed to receive.
Understanding Social Security fraud
Social Security fraud is any type of deception or force used to obtain money illegally from the Social Security Administration (SSA). For example, an individual might lie about their work history to qualify for disability benefits or fail to report a change in income, affecting the amount of financial support the SSA gives them.
Identity theft and Social Security fraud
There are scammers in California that can use your personal information to commit Social Security fraud. They might open a new bank account in your name and have your Social Security benefits deposited into that account. Or they might file a false tax return using your Social Security number to get a refund.
The consequences of Social Security fraud
Social Security fraud is among the most severely punished white-collar crimes in the country. The federal court could order you to pay fines of up to $250,000 or sentence you to five years in prison. Additionally, you may have to pay restitution to the Social Security Administration. And if your offense involved identity theft, you could face additional charges under California’s identity theft laws.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to protect yourself from being a victim of Social Security Fraud in California. For instance, you should never give away your Social Security number or other personal information unless you are absolutely sure about the person or organization you are dealing with. You could also be especially aware of unsolicited requests for your personal information, whether they come through the mail, over the phone or online. Finally, make sure to keep track of your Social Security statement so you can catch any discrepancies early on.