NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – 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 more than 19,000 seniors nationwide have reported identity 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. He has written a letter to SSA demanding immediate action to prevent more thefts.

“It shouldn’t take just one phone call and a scrap of information for a thief to reroute Social Security payments to their own bank account,” said Schumer. “Social Security is a lifeline to seniors, and a thief shouldn’t be able to sever that line with a snap of their finger…the Social Security Administration should not do it, no questions asked.”

1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck has the story…

“Fortunately there are easy steps that the Social Security Administration can take to protect them, such as requiring immediate notification when bank account information is changed,” he said.

Schumer wants beneficiaries to be notified immediately about any attempted changes to bank account information. The Social Security Inspector General also recommends an automatic notification system.

The federal agency has not responded to Schumer’s request.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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