Beware of false advertisements
Published 6:43 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019
By Lizna Odhwani
Scammers have become more aggressive and sophisticated in the digital age. With millions of people relying on Social Security and Medicare, scammers target audiences who are looking for legitimate program and benefit information.
Scammers sometimes try to scare people into giving out their personal information. Never give someone who called you any personal information unless you absolutely know who they are.
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The law that addresses misleading Social Security and Medicare advertising prohibits people or non-government businesses from using words or emblems that mislead others. Their advertising can’t claim that they represent, are somehow affiliated with, or are endorsed or approved by Social Security or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Medicare).
People are often misled by advertisers who use the terms “Social Security” or “Medicare.” Often, these companies offer Social Security services for a fee, even though Social Security offers the same services free of charge. These services include getting:
- A corrected Social Security card showing a person’s married name;
- A Social Security card to replace a lost card;
- A Social Security Statement; and
- A Social Security number for a child.
If you receive misleading information about Social Security, send the complete ad, including the envelope (if applicable), to Office of the Inspector General Fraud Hotline, Social Security Administration, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235.
You can learn more about how Social Security combats fraudulent advertisers by reading its publication “What You Need to Know About Misleading Advertising” at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10005.pdf.
You can also view and share anti-fraud information at www.socialsecurity.gov/antifraudfacts as well as this YouTube video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N96ORODZm8.
Remember, information is easy to email and post on social media. Please let your loved ones know about these types of scams. Sharing this article with friends and family can save them from financial and emotional hardship.
Lizna Odhwani is a Social Security public affairs specialist based in Norfolk. Contact her at Lizna.Odhwani@ssa.gov.