WASHINGTON (AP) Social Security officials Monday warned senior citizens of hoaxes that promise slave reparations or additional benefit payments in exchange for their Social Security numbers and other personal information.
Theres no federal law promising black seniors slavery reparations in exchange for personal information, said the agency that distributes the federal retirement benefit.
More than 29,000 people fell victim to that scheme and another hoax involving notch babies, who receive lower Social Security payments than other seniors, said an alert issued by the Social Security Administrations Office of the Inspector General.
Misled seniors sent checks, birth records, drivers licenses, military service documents and other information to a retirement group listed on fliers, the agency watchdog said. Officials found no evidence of the group participating in the hoax.
We are warning seniors to think twice before responding to any solicitations promising additional Social Security payments, said James G. Huse Jr., the SSA Inspector General.
Seniors should contact Social Security offices or a member of Congress if they have questions, Huse said.
In the slavery hoax, senior were led to believe that under the Slave Reparation Act, black Americans born before 1927 were entitled to government funds. No such law exists, but it was touted in thousands of fliers posted in churches, nursing homes and other venues.
The agency investigated the fliers for several months, but officials still dont know who was responsible for the hoax, said Rena Jones, a spokeswoman for the inspector general.
Seniors were told to mail their information to the Senior Citizens League, an affiliate of the Retired Enlisted Association, a group for military retirees. The group, which does lobby on some Social Security issues, immediately notified federal officials when it began hearing from the duped seniors.
Jones said the investigators found no wrongdoing and theres no evidence that any identities have been misused.
In the other Social Security hoax, fliers targeted people born between 1917 and 1926. It said these notch babies were due $5,000 apiece, and encouraged seniors to send in personal information for a National Victim Register.
People born between those years may indeed be getting fewer benefits because of a flaw in the cost-of-living formula enacted in the late 1970s, but Congress has not been able to agree on how to fix the error.
The hoax flier plays on those congressional attempts, saying: There is a measure attempting to be passed, but you must be registered in order to receive it. Seniors were told, Social Security will not contact notch babies.Ý
The reparations scam is the latest scheme dealing with money for descendants of slaves. Last fall, the Internal Revenue Service warned that scam artists were bilking black citizens nationwide by charging them for information about a phony slave reparation tax credit. IRS tax centers received thousands of reparation-related claims, which were rejected.
Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General: http://www.ssa.gov/oig/index.html
Internal Revenue Service: http://www.irs.gov
Copyright © 2001, Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.