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Susan Tompor: Social Security benefits stolen by hackers, leaving families with bill

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Tim Sagert has been enduring the pain of a double-whammy of identity theft.

First, a crook used his stolen ID to claim Social Security benefits last spring. Then this tax season, Sagert was hit with an SSA-1099 tax form for reporting the income paid to the crook.

"I'm definitely not paying it. I'm refusing to pay it," said Sagert, 63, of Sterling Heights, who is the president of the Communications Workers of America Local 4008 in Mt. Clemens.

Why should he have to fret about the possibility of paying income taxes on $2,095 in Social Security benefits when a fraudster stole the money? And why is he stuck constantly calling and trying to straighten things out with Social Security?

"It's really a headache," he said.

Where personal data is stolen is hard to track down because ID thieves can access the data in so many ways now.

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The Equifax data breach, first disclosed in September -- which some dub as the most destructive data breach recorded -- compromised the personal information of nearly 146 million consumers, including some Social Security data.

Many consumers wondered whether someone would open a credit card in their name or file a fake tax return to generate a fraudulent refund using their stolen Social Security numbers.

Few imagined that hackers would try to make bogus claims for Social Security benefits.

But consumers who are in their 60s who have not claimed benefits yet could be at risk for headaches involving fraudulent Social Security retirement claims.


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