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Column: Don’t be misled by false Medicare or Social Security ads

Online and otherwise, there’s a lot of information out there, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell what sources are credible. With millions of people relying on Social Security, scammers target those looking for program and benefit information.

The law prohibits misleading Social Security and Medicare advertising and nongovernment businesses from using words or emblems that mislead others. Their advertising can’t lead people to believe that they represent, are somehow affiliated with, or endorsed or approved by Social Security or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

People are often misled by advertisers who use the terms “Social Security” or “Medicare” and offer services for a fee, even though the same services are available directly from Social Security for free. Some services offered by scammers include:

>> Getting a corrected Social Security card reflecting a person’s married name

>> Receiving a Social Security card to replace a lost card

>> Receiving a Social Security statement

>> Requesting a Social Security number for a child

If you receive misleading information about Social Security, send the complete ad, including the envelope, 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 “What You Need to Know About Misleading Advertising” at

You can also report Social Security fraud to the Office of the Inspector General at

Nicole Tiggemann is a spokeswoman for the Social Security Administration.

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