Kaneohe woman investigating if letter is Social Security scam or - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kaneohe woman investigating if letter is Social Security scam or mistake

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A scam or a costly mistake – that's what a Kaneohe woman is trying to determine after she was sent a confusing letter that appears to be from the Social Security Administration filled with someone else's personal details.

Terry Galpin's grandmother, Theresa Miraglia, has never lived in Hawai'i.  She died in Florida more than 13 years ago, which is why Galpin didn't understand when she was sent a letter addressed to her grandmother asking for $768.80 in Social Security benefit overpayment.

"It's frustrating, and it's scary, and it's wrong," explained Galpin, who called the Honolulu Social Security office Wednesday hoping for help.

"All the information that you provided on your birth date, your name, everything matched our record that's connected to this record," explained the woman who answered.  "What I have here on record is that we do have an overpayment for this person."

But Galpin says it doesn't make sense, because the Social Security number in the letter isn't her Grandmother's – or even hers, for that matter.

"I panicked, thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, somehow I'm linked to this with the Government and I'm screwed!'" Galpin said. 

After explaining the situation to the woman on the phone, Galpin was told: "They have the wrong person that they're asking for money from then."

The woman went on to say: "If that's not you, they're disclosing somebody else's Social Security number to you."

Galpin's had her identity stolen before and says she knows how much damage this information can do in the wrong hands.

"Not only now could this affect me, but it's affecting this person whose Social Security number I now have," explained Galpin.

The woman who took Galpin's call agreed, "I don't doubt that the letter is from Social Security, what I'm doubting is I think they've got the wrong person."

Galpin's been asked to mail the letter to the Honolulu Social Security office so officials can validate its authenticity and investigate the mix-up.

Whether it's a scam, or a mistake, Galpin says she can't believe it.

"It breaks my heart to think my Mother, who's 70 years old, if she got a letter like this she'd pay it – and it's $700, almost $800 – for my mom, it'd be a lot of money.  So it's shameful.  It's just not right," said Galpin.

Hawai'i News Now called the Regional Social Security office for comment.  We were told anyone who receives correspondence they're not sure about, should take it to their local office or file a fraud claim online.  They also directed us to the Office of the Inspector General.  We're still waiting to hear whether this is a known issue.  

"Spending two and a half hours today dealing with it has irritated me to no end and we haven't dealt with it! That's the thing! I have to send a letter in and when I asked her how long is it going to take before I get an answer she didn't answer me – so I have no faith that this is going to be taken care of.  None," explained Galpin.

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