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Social Security Q&A

Social Security Warns Senior Citizens to Be Sure They Are on the Official Social Security Website

Countless consumers victimized each year by misleading advertisers who use "Social Security" or "Medicare" to entice the public to use their services

March 25, 2013 - Thinking you are doing business with Social Security can be a costly mistake when you have been mislead to a website posing as the official government site, says Oscar Garcia, Public Affair Specialist with the Social Security Administration. He also advises prompt notification of a beneficiaries death to another question in this Social Security Q&A.


Does Social Security charge to change your name on the Social Security card? I thought it was free, but the website I was on wanted to charge me $50 to do this.


That service is absolutely free from Social Security. Go back and check the website you visited. The most important tip is to look for the “.gov” at the end of the web address. If it does not have .gov, then it is not the real Social Security website —


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Countless consumers nationwide are victimized each year by misleading advertisers who use "Social Security" or "Medicare" to entice the public to use their services. In many cases, these companies offer Social Security services for a fee, even though the same services are available directly from Social Security, free of charge.

These services include updating a Social Security card to show a bride's married name; replacing a Social Security card; and getting a Social Security number for a child.

These for-profit businesses may cleverly design their websites, so when people use Internet search engines, their advertisement pops up. They may even make their advertisement look similar to the real Social Security website.

Some of these sites, at first glance, appear to be affiliated with Social Security. Upon closer examination, these are for-profit companies charging individuals for a service that is provided free by Social Security.

For instance, a quick Google search on “replacing a Social Security card” brings up paid advertisements for websites that charge a fee just to get an application for a new card.  The law that deals specifically with misleading Social Security and Medicare advertising prohibits people or non-government organizations, like for-profit businesses, from using words or emblems that mislead others. Their advertising cannot lead people to believe that they represent or are somehow affiliated with or endorsed or approved by Social Security or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (Medicare). That does not stop advertisers from trying.

Do not be tricked into paying a fee for a service that is free. Remember: if it does not show .gov, then it is not Social Security.


My father receives Social Security retirement benefits, and I will be in charge of his estate when he dies. Should that occur, do I need to report his death to Social Security or will benefits automatically stop?


In the event of his death, please notify Social Security as soon as possible by calling us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). This will ensure that we update his record and stop his benefits timely. We will also determine if another person, such as a spouse, may be eligible for survivors benefits based on his record. We suggest reading a copy of our online publication, “How Social Security Can Help You When A Family Member Dies”, at

Oscar Garcia is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration. You can direct your questions to him at: SSA, 411 Richland Hills Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78245. You can also email him at


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