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Officials warn seniors about refund promises

Local senior citizens should be cautious about any advertisement or phone calls saying the government will refund them money, Social Security officials said.

Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Local senior citizens should be cautious about any advertisement or phone calls saying the government will refund them money, Social Security officials said.

"None have been directly reported to me, but there are usually some in this area," said Bette Backus, administrator at the Ironton office.

The Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General hotline has received reports of fraud regarding advertisements targeting elderly Americans, Mrs. Backus said.

One advertisement states: "the Government is refunding monies to anyone alive that was born up until the year of 1927 due to the Slave Reparation Act."

The advertisement states that in order to qualify for the money, individuals must become part of a "National Victim’s Register" by supplying their name, date of birth, and Social Security number.

There is no such law as the Slave Reparation Act, and the advertisement is a hoax, Mrs. Backus said.

The inspector general’s office said a second advertisement involves the "Notch Baby" and targets individuals born between 1911 and 1926. The advertisement also asks for name, date of birth and Social Security number for the National Victim’s Register.

While the "Notch Baby" is a legislative issue, the requirement to become part of a National Victim’s Register is a hoax, Mrs. Backus said.

"If someone gets this kind of hoax, they can report it to us here at 533-1200 and give us any documentation they have," she said. "We will forward it to the Office of Inspector General."

It’s very important to be wary of the fraud, and report the incidents, because someone stealing a person’s identifying information can use it illegally – by opening bogus bank or charge accounts or even committing crimes, Mrs. Backus said.

A lot of Tri-State seniors are often targeted with such identity information scams and Social Security officials are putting up a strong fight, she said.

The recent scams ask individuals to send information to a "victim’s registrar" at the "T.R.E.A. Senior Citizens League" in Washington, D.C., the inspector general’s office said.

A representative for the league has denied any involvement in the hoax.