Savannah woman says social security checks diverted to strange bank account

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – 78-year-old Sheila Conary says it’s been a long seven months in terms of her finances. It started in June of 2019 when she was told by her bank (Wells Fargo) that her account was short.

“I noticed I was getting insufficient funds in my checking account and I thought that can’t be because I’ve got money in there,” Conary told me.

But she was wrong. Four Social Security checks for the months of February, March, April and May had not been electronically deposited as normal. After going to the local Social Security Administration office she was shocked by the information they provided.

“When I went to Social Security they said they couldn’t help me,” said Conary. “They told me I should go to the Bank of America and said my funds had been diverted to an account there, that the change had been set up online by me. I said ‘no I never did that’ and told me I don’t have a Bank of America account.”

She now knows that someone somehow was able to go online to Social Security and change her deposit information.

“So, I went to Bank of America and they said ‘the funds were sent to them but they couldn’t release them without getting an okay from Social Security’, so it went on like this between Bank of America and the Social Security Administration,” said Conary.

She says seven months later, part of the situation has been resolved, i.e. that as of June her checks went back to her own Wells Fargo account.

“But I’m still missing February, March, April and May (checks) so over $8,000 is still sitting in Bank of America under some account that I didn’t open,” Conary says.

She says she was informed a while ago that higher levels of the Social Security Administration would be investigating. “But I have been in Limbo for months,” said Conary. “Nobody’s gotten back to me from Social Security.”

News 3 was able to reach a spokesman for Bank of America who said they would contact Conary directly to get more information from her regarding the situation.

We also contacted the regional office of the Social Security Administration in Atlanta. They offered no comments about Conary’s case but did provide information regarding security and said that over 90 percent of Georgians now receive their Social Security via electronic deposits with few problems.

We were also told there are measures in place to prevent fraud including:

** The ability to create a ‘my Social Security’ account to help recipients keep track of their records and identify any suspicious activity

** eServices block, which prevents anyone, including you, from seeing or changing your personal information on the internet. Once the block is added, you or your representative will need to visit your local field office to request the removal of the block.

** The Direct Deposit Fraud Prevention block — This prevents anyone, including you, from enrolling in direct deposit or changing your address or direct deposit information through my Social Security or a financial institution (via auto-enrollment). Once we add the block, you or your representative will need to visit your local field office to request removal of the block or make any future changes to direct deposit or contact information.

Despite safeguards, Conary says she worries that others can be affected as she was.

“I worked hard all those years for that money and I paid into it, I feel like I earned it and I want it back,” she told us.

Her advice to others:

“Be careful, watch your checking accounts and your balances and make sure everything is there that should be,” said Conary.

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