Archive for December, 2012

Go Direct

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Go Direct

NJFA has done a number of blogs about Go Direct, a campaign alerting those who receive Federal Benefits (such as Social Security) that they must sign up for Direct Deposit for those benefits by March 1, 2013 as US Treasury will no longer issue paper checks after that date.

There are two options, direct deposit into your bank account or you may chose to receive your benefits on a pre-paid debit card. You can learn more at www.ssa.gov/deposit/

Today, we want to tell you that in this age of technology, scammers are finding more ways to target seniors. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that they have been receiving reports from identity theft victims that their monthly Social Security benefits had been sent to a different bank account or pre-paid debt card, without their knowledge or permission.

SSA and the Office of the Inspector General continue to investigate and track these cases. The incidents are related to widespread schemes, the same kind of fraudulent phone calls or emails targeting seniors that have been going on for years. Now, the scammers are using this personal information to re-direct direct deposit of Social Security benefits.

David Vinokurov of the Social Security Administration states, “to protect your identity, be wary of any calls or emails from people asking for personal information.” No legitimate company will make an unsolicited call asking for personal information like your Social Security number (SSN) or bank account. Mr. Vinokurov adds, “The Social Security Administration will never ask for your SSN, we have it.”

The SSA does not want anyone to fear signing up for Direct Deposit, they know it is a safe and convenient way for people to receive benefits. Unfortunately, scammers will always find a way to take advantage, so the best thing you can do is to closely guard your personal information. If you receive a call or email asking you for your bank account number, Social Security Number or other personal information, do not give it out. “Always pay attention to your bank statements and your credit reports” warns Mr. Vinokurov. You can receive a free credit report once a year, visit www.annualcreditreport.com to learn more.

Another safeguard through the SSA is that you can tell them that no changes may be made to your account unless you appear in person with ID, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/blockaccess

If you fear that your benefits may have been changed due to identity theft contact SSA immediately. For example, if you have not received your benefits and it is 3 to 4 days past your scheduled payment or if you receive a letter confirming a change to your direct deposit however you did not authorize this change, you should report the problem immediately to SSA.

To learn more about this type of fraud and how to report it, visit http://oig.ssa.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse

 

 

 

 

The Affects of Sandy for Seniors

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The Affects of Sandy for Seniors

NJFA has partnered with NCOA on a few occasions to share a common message or service. NCOA’s One Away campaign has been something that NJFA has tweeted or facebooked about because we understand that many seniors (and many families) are one illness, one accident, on job loss away from a financial crisis. Now, as it turns out, they were just one hurricane away from financial disaster.

Before Sandy hit New Jersey, we knew there seniors who were living solely on Social Security. Many of them wondering by the end of the month how they’d make do until their next check. Sometimes, making a choice between food or medication or heat. NJFA has been aware of and worked on advocacy efforts for these seniors who are living on the edge of poverty.

NJFA’s 2012 Elder Index Update report shows that more than 25% of NJ seniors have difficulty closing the gap. We know that basic expenses in NJ for a single elder, in a one bedroom apartment are $27,960 a year. To read more of this report visit, http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/NJElderEconomicIndex2012.pdf

Certainly, seniors were among those affected by “Super-Storm” Sandy. Being displaced from their home, losing their belongings, are all things that may have pushed those living on the edge, over it. Those seniors may now be faced with not only how to stretch their dollars, but where to find dollars to replace their belongings or their home.

As we continue to hear stories about the people dealing with the recovery from the storm, we will see people like, Robert Ford, a disabled Vietnam veteran, whose family’s story of trying to save his home and keep him in it, was featured in the Asbury Park Press on Dec. 3rd. http://www.app.com/viewart/20121202/NJNEWS/312020047/Sandy-Highlands-veterans

In the article, you can read about how the family is struggling to find ways and money to rebuild the home and get Mr. Ford back where he wants to be. But it is not so easy for people that were barely making ends meet before the storm.

There are probably also many New Jersey seniors, who like Elaine of Maryland, who was featured in a video about senior hunger put out by the National Council on Aging, had her home flooded and wonders now how she’ll pay for the damage as well as continue to buy food, medication and pay for her heat. http://www.ncoa.org/get-involved/this-holiday-season-give-a.html

To find out about public supports and other programs that might help seniors in need contact your County Office on Aging, http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html