Systemwide Human Resources (HR) has received reports from several UC retirees and employees of attempted identity theft and Social Security fraud. There have been several cases where retirees and employees have received letters from the Social Security Administration (SSA) about online applications for retirement benefits that they had not filed.

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After a thorough analysis, Systemwide HR and Information Technology Services confirmed that UC’s data had not been breached. There have been reports from other universities and other public retirement systems of identity theft and similar scams targeting the Social Security benefits of people who have reached the early retirement age of 62.

If you have an active “my Social Security” account, make sure to enable two-step authentication. By using your username and password together with a piece of information that only you know, two-step authentication makes it harder for potential intruders to gain access to your personal data or identity. This feature, recently added by the SSA, gives you a valuable extra measure of protection against fraud.

Steps to prevent identity theft and fraud

Although this scam targets Social Security benefits, everyone should take care to protect their information and identity.

  1. Think twice before sharing financial or identity information (yours or other people’s). Use known contact information to confirm any request for personal information, even if the request looks like it’s from someone you know.
  2. Use different passwords across your accounts, including your email accounts. Check your email accounts and your U.S. mail regularly, as new email or U.S. mail may alert you to unusual activity.
  3. Consider enrolling in identity theft protection, such as the services included in UC’s Legal Plan. The plan, which is open for enrollment this year, includes services such as credit monitoring, internet surveillance, child identity monitoring, full-service identity restoration and identity theft insurance.

If you suspect you are a victim of Social Security benefits fraud, report the incident to the SSA right away. The SSA has trained programs specialists and investigators who will investigate your report and help you restore your benefits. You may also contact the Retirement Administration Service Center with questions or concerns online or at 800-888-8267.