by Tom Winschel, For New Pittsburgh Courier
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.
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 we combat fraudulent advertisers by reading our publication What You Need to Know About Misleading Advertising at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10005.pdf.
You can also view and share our anti-fraud information at www.socialsecurity.gov/antifraudfacts as well as this YouTube video www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N96ORODZm8.
Remember, our 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.
(Tom Winschel is Social Security District Manager in Pittsburgh, Pa.)
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