Misleading Social Security Advertisements

Misleading Social Security Advertisements

Most people in the United States care about Social Security for one reason or another, either because they are collecting retirement or disability benefits or because they would like to in the future. Since Social Security affects millions of people, those people are easy targets for scammers who have developed a variety of ways to gain access to personal information.

There are laws that prohibit non-government business and people from using the Social Security Administration’s emblems to mislead people into thinking they are official representatives of the Administration. Advertisements cannot make people think these businesses are approved by, affiliated with, or endorsed by the SSA. But as long as there are laws, there are bad actors doing the bare minimum to comply with them.

One of the main methods by which scammers try to get information like your Social Security number, date of birth, bank information, or address is to represent themselves as agents of the Social Security Administration.

You might receive a phone call or voicemail telling you that your Social Security number has been suspended because the SSA detected illegal activity associated with it; you will be given a phone number that you can call to have your Social Security number reinstated after you verify some personal information. You could also be contacted by someone offering to help you complete a disability application or Medicare paperwork.

Alternatively, you may see companies advertising services that they can provide you for a fee, such as correcting your Social Security card to show a married or changed name, replace a lost Social Security card, giving you your Social Security income statement, or generating a Social Security number for a child. Unfortunately, all of those are services that the SSA provides for free.

Has this happened to you? Or are you curious what to do if it does in the future? For starters, if you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be a representative from the SSA, do not give them any personal information. Hang up the phone. If you want to double-check with SSA to make sure they did not actually need information from you, call your local Social Security office and ask them or the SSA’s main phone line at 1.800.772.1213. The SSA rarely contacts people over the phone.

Next, send any misleading information that you might receive in the way of advertising or emails to the Inspector General Fraud Hotline at the following address: Social Security Administration, PO Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235.