NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says scammers are stealing thousands of senior citizens' Social Security payments, often with just one phone call.
The New York Democrat on Sunday urged the federal Social Security Administration to take safety measures to curb the fraud.
As of August, the senator says, there have been more than 19,000 reports of attempted identify thefts. That's about 50 each day.
The payments are directly deposited into private bank accounts.
Scammers divert payments by obtaining account information, then making a phone call to reroute the money to their own accounts.
"It shouldn't take just one phone call and a scrap of information for a thief to reroute Social Security payments to a fake bank account," Schumer said. "Social Security is a lifeline to seniors, and a thief shouldn't be able to sever that line with a snap of their finger."
To foil scammers, Schumer wants beneficiaries to be notified immediately about any attempted changes to bank account information via e-mail, text, letters and automated phone calls. The Social Security Inspector General also recommends an automatic notification system.
The federal agency did not immediately return a call for comment.