I recently received a letter from Social Security informing me that the change I requested for my direct deposit would take effect this month. The problem is, I never requested it.
After 3 calls to Social Security and a total of 90 minutes on hold, I finally got a service rep. that agreed to tell me what bank I was supposed to have redirected my benefits to.
Columbia Banking & Trust was the information I was given. I called them and they got me in touch with Green Dot Cash Cards which is apparently one of their subsidiaries. Surprise! I had opened an account with them and I was apparently living in Winter Haven, Florida, news to me.
By giving Green Dot my name, SS# and date of birth a criminal was able to open the account & have Green Dot change my direct deposit to that account. After being passed around to several different employee of Green Dot, I was able to close the account and put a security block on my information so at least no one else could open an account with them in my name.
Then came dealing with Social Security. They changed it back to my bank, but only after I went in person with an ID. I was told there was nothing I could do to keep this from happening again.
I filed a criminal complaint that is being investigated, however it appears the criminal used the address of an empty house that is currently for sale. I will update when I hear back from the detective.
These cash card companies can send basic information given to them by a voice on a phone to the SSA and change things instantly. However if I need to make a change I have to give them everything but blood in person to make it happen. This is completely unacceptable. After talking to all the parties involved, this is something that is happening to many folks every day. It should not be easier to steal my money than it is for me to fix the issues it causes.
I am working with my U.S. House Representative to try and get this corrected. As far as I am concerned the main party responsible for allowing these frauds to take place is the SSA. They have allowed a system that sets these cash card companies up as an easy tool of the criminals. It must change.
For those receiving benefits, I wrote this as a warning. Your personal information is available online with little effort, especially for those of us that get social security. Currently there is nothing you can do to protect yourself from being the victim of this. I hope you will join me in demanding, through your elected officials that this be fixed.