Recent data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) indicates that scams involving Social Security are causing significant financial losses for Americans, exceeding $100 million each year. In 2023, the FTC recorded 164,413 instances of government impersonation frauds, with scams related to Social Security being the most prevalent. The Social Security Administration reported 38,852 such cases, leading to an alarming loss of $101.58 million to these deceptive practices.
As seniors become eligible for Social Security, they face increased risks due to the rise of artificial intelligence in scamming techniques. The rapid progression of AI technology intensifies the vulnerability of seniors, a group traditionally preyed upon for their government benefits. Hari Ravichandran, the CEO of online security firm Aura, points out the particular susceptibility of the elderly to identity theft and fraud.
The challenge of AI in Social Security scams
“Seniors are particularly prone to these risks,” Ravichandran remarks, citing the FBI’s latest Internet Crime Report which shows that Americans aged over 60 incurred losses of $1.7 billion due to fraud, the highest among all age groups. He warns of scammers’ growing sophistication in using AI for voice impersonations, manipulating caller IDs, and creating fake websites and emails to masquerade as authoritative figures or even family members.
The deceptive nature of these AI-powered scams makes them hard to recognize, often mimicking legitimate entities like the Social Security Administration. Despite their complexity, Powers notes that these scams usually follow similar underlying tactics.
Patterns in scam techniques
Identifying these patterns is crucial for elder protection. Powers advises, “Scams typically involve a scenario that creates immediate panic or a sense of urgency in the victim.” He suggests that the best defense for seniors is to pause, reassess the situation, and confirm the legitimacy of the situation with trusted sources.
In today’s world, sophisticated scams proliferate on social media platforms such as TikTok. Raj Dasgupta, a senior executive at BioCatch, points out the prevalence of various scamming techniques on these platforms, including celebrity impersonations, investment frauds, and bogus giveaways. Seniors, often unfamiliar with platforms like TikTok, are particularly vulnerable to these scams. “Many Social Security recipients are retired with limited income, making them susceptible to false promises of financial gain, leading to detrimental consequences,” explains Dasgupta.
He also stresses the emotional manipulation involved in these scams, exploiting seniors’ fear and desire for a positive outcome, which often leads them to fall for these schemes.
Advice for avoiding scams
Despite the advancement in AI, there are effective ways to protect your Social Security benefits. Dasgupta suggests, “Stay cautious of offers that seem unrealistic. Rather than clicking on links, confirm any information directly with the concerned authorities.” He also advises caution with unsolicited requests for personal information over the phone.
To prevent identity theft, Dasgupta recommends regularly checking your credit report through services like annualcreditreport.com. He notes, “Unrecognized accounts on your report might be a sign of identity theft.