ST. LOUIS(KSDK) - It's a scam that's robbing Social Security recipients of their benefits and involves a new online account system that the Social Security Administration is encouraging people to sign-up for.
Earlier this week NewsChannel 5 spoke to a couple that received notice from the agency confirming they had signed up for the new online system. The only problem was they had done no such thing.
The couple from Fenton was able to catch the fraud before it cost them any money, but not everyone has been so lucky.
Thursday, NewsChannel 5 learned the Office of the Inspector General is tracking tens of thousands of similar cases across the country.
An Assistant Inspector says this is not necessarily a new crime, but a new twist on a scam the agency has seen going back to 2011 that involves the re-directing of Social Security direct deposits.
In an email the Inspector says the OIG is investigating allegations from a number of locations around the country now, and will work with SSA to make this crime more difficult to commit.
The Social Security Administration says their system has not been hacked or compromised in any way.
SSA recommends people suspecting fraud report any problems to the FTC at 1-877-IDTHEFT or go to www.idtheft.gov and click on the link for "Report Identity Theft."
People can also contact the Social Security Administration and have them put a block on any online activity.
Your social security number may be in the hands of identity thieves.
On Monday evening NewsChannel 5 confirmed the Social Security Administration is investigating possible online fraud.
The complaints first started coming in from people visiting the Social Security office in Fenton. Between 20 and 40 people showed up there Monday morning complaining about a letter they received in the mail. It said they had successfully signed up for online access to their Social Security Account.
The problem is, those people didn't sign up for it.
Ron Yanker got the letter over the weekend. He found out Monday that somebody using his social security number went online and was trying to steal his social security checks.
Yanker says an employee at the office mentioned they first learned of the problem late last week and that it could be a nationwide problem.
Yanker, his wife, and many of the other people at the office took steps to block online access to their accounts. The worry is these hackers may already have enough information to steal their victims' identities.
"I had to call Experian to put a fraud alert on," said Yanker. "Because I figure if they've got my Social Security number they're going to start hitting the card. They're going to try to open up new accounts."
The Social Security Administration released this statement:
"We are unable to provide specific information at this time. But it appears some people's personal information may have been compromised by identify thieves sometime in their past. However, it is important to note when we receive reports of possible fraudulent activity, we immediately refer those allegations to the Social Security Office of the Inspector General for further investigation.
"If someone believes they have been the victim of identity theft, they should contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261. Or go to www.idtheft.gov and click on the link for 'Report Identity Theft.'
"People who find out their information may have been compromised by identity thieves, may contact the Social Security Administration to put a block on online activity on their Social Security number."
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Social Security Administration released the following statement:
"We have received isolated reports from our offices in the St. Louis area. Our representatives have assisted customers to address their concerns about this issue. As we shared earlier, people who find out their information may have been compromised by identity thieves may contact the Social Security Administration to put a block on online activity on their Social Security number."