2012-11-30 / Top Stories

Social Security Administration Commissioner: Beware Of Scams

Michael Astrue, the Commissioner of the nation’s Social Security Administration had just taken a long look at the agency’s facility on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 113 Street when The Wave caught up to him.

He was shaking his head at all the devastation he had seen in Rockaway and the fact that his cinder block office had served as a fire block, keeping the eastern end of the block from burning down.

“Today was haunting,” he said. “To think of the random element of it all. Some places looking like a war zone, others pristine. The fact that our office worked as a fire break, saving countless property. All random.”

Astrue said that it would be “a while” before the office reopens. There was fire damage to the external walls and two feet of water in the office. In addition, the roof was heavily damaged and might need to be replaced.

Astrue worries, however more about scams than the future of the office.

“Scams arise every time there is a dis aster such as this,” he said. “We have anecdotal evidence that there have been lots of scam calls in Far Rockaway. What happens is that people call and say they have free disaster money and all they need is a social security number and bank information to supply the money.”

“SSA never makes calls like that,” he said emphatically. “We never ask for social security numbers or bank routing information. Never!”

He urges anybody who gets such a call to immediately call 1-800-772-1213 to report the scam to SSA investigators.

“People are already traumatized and they are more used to talking with government agencies like FEMA and Unemployment,” he says. “That makes it easier to convince them that it is ok to give up their personal information.”

“The scams are now the result of people trying to cash in on Sandy,” he says. “People have to know to be careful.”

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