Social security scam letter targeting seniors

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- How much longer will seniors have to wait for a cost of living adjustment on social security benefits?  Well there`s a new warning from the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's office about potential mis- information and unnecessary fees.

An official looking letter with a Washington D.C. return address relies on taxpayer fears about stagnant social security benefits.   Two sisters from south St. Louis were smart enough not to fall for it.

Eighty-three year old Beverly and 91-year-old Dolores share a home in south St. Louis. The younger sister helps the elder one with her mail.   Recently, Beverly opened a letter addressed to her sister.   This was her reaction.  "When I opened it up and started reading it I said this just doesn`t sound right."

The letter implies a group called "the Benefit Security Coalition" would take an individual taxpayer's donation of $18.55 and parlay that into restoring social security's cost of living adjustment.   It`s been two years since benefit payments reflected a cost of living increase.  The letter was signed by a Sean Murphy according to Beverly.  "If you returned this voucher with your signature on it, He would take that and put it on the desk of the commissioner of the Social Security Administration.   And according to his statement  he believed they will refund the money that we lost."

Dan Rechtien with Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce's office talked to me after he was contacted by the sisters.  "The way it works is, hundreds of thousands , maybe even millions of these letters are sent out.  And they`re hoping for a response of 10% or better.  Well if they got a 10% response from a million letters,  that`s a hundred and eighty five thousand dollars."

Beverly says $18.55 doesn`t sound like a lot of money, but for some older people that`s a lot of money .  She also wonders why taxpayers needed to respond within seven days.  "If it`s an elderly person who doesn`t understand a lot of this, they wouldn`t have time to check with family."

Rechtien says seniors should not fall for this.  "Even if they do exactly what they say they`re going to do, ONE, they can`t effect the outcome of increasing COLA benefits.  And TWO, why does it take $18.55 to deliver one piece of paper to a commissioner`s office in Washington DC?"

If you get a letter asking for money to change social security benefits, check with authorities to determine if it`s legitimate.   You can not impact the cost of living adjustment with an $18 donation.

If you have consumer concerns call us at Contact 2, the toll free number is 800-782-2222.  Volunteers take calls Monday through Thursday between 11am and 1pm.

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