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How disabled Americans can avoid being targets for fraudsters

As the Target retail data security breach has reminded the American public, anyone can become a target for fraudsters at any time. However, individuals who receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may be at a greater risk for financial fraud victimization than members of the general public are. This is partially because disabled individuals are often regarded as more financially vulnerable than some other populations.

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has published an interactive online chronology of data breaches that have occurred in the United States over the past several years. According to this chronology, nearly 4,200 major data breaches have occurred in the U.S. since 2005. During those data breaches, more than 663,000,000 personal information records have been exposed by hackers and fraudsters.

So, how can SSD beneficiaries avoid becoming victims of financial fraud? First, remain aware that data breaches and financial fraud scams are a real hazard. If you are educated on what kinds of fraud are occurring in the U.S. today, you can take steps to safeguard yourself, your finances and your private financial information.

Second, be wary of any odd transactions you may be asked to participate in or discover. If you are checking over your credit card statements and a small, unauthorized charge appears, call the credit card company and discuss it. Just because the charge is small does not mean that it is not serious. It could represent evidence of a larger security breach.

Finally, be smart about giving out any personal information over the phone or the Internet. Fraudsters are eager to take your information and use it for their own purposes, so guard this information carefully.

Source: New York Times, “Sidestepping the Risk of Credit and Debit Card Fraud,” Ron Lieber, Feb. 7, 2014

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