CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) –  If you or someone you know receive Social Security benefits, there are several ways to avoid Social Security schemes.

The Social Security Administration approves a cost-of-living adjustment for recipients of Social Security benefits and Supplementary Security Income (SSI) every year, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Due to inflation, payments can increase by 8.7% this year, which is a significant increase, because it is the highest COLA approved in more than 40 years, and schemers are taking advantage of it.

Schemers can contact you by phone, text, or email and say this “Social Security Administration representative” claims that you must apply for your cost-of-living increase. They also might ask you to visit a website and send information by text or email or to speak with them on the phone to get benefits.

The schemer will ask you to verify your identity by sharing your personal details, like your full name, address, or Social Security number. They might even ask for your bank account information and claim that the representative will deposit the extra money directly into your bank account. If you are giving them your banking information, they might be able to gain access to your own money.

The BBB provides the following tips to avoid these schemes:

Remember, the SSA’s COLA is automatic. You don’t need to do anything to receive the increase in benefits. If someone tells you otherwise, you’re likely dealing with a scammer.

Know how the SSA communicates. According to SSA, “If there is a problem with your Social Security number, we will mail you a letter. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us.” A call, text, or email from an SSA agent out of the blue is a red flag.

Don’t give in to threats. SSA will never threaten you with arrest or legal action. They will never suspend your Social Security number or demand payment from you. They will never ask for personal information or banking details to give you an increase in benefits. If someone demands these things or threatens you over the phone, they are not with SSA.

When in doubt, hang up. If you suspect you might be getting scammed, stop all communications. Visit to research or call 1-800-MEDICARE to confirm that the correspondence is legitimate before taking action.