Older people are at a greater risk of fraud and other forms of financial exploitation. The United States Postal Service has seen an increase in mail fraud and is promoting community strength and fraud awareness as a way to prevent abuse. Social Security agrees. You can help your more vulnerable loved ones fight fraud.

You or a loved one might receive an advertisement in the mail, but it could be from a private company or even a scammer. United States law prohibits people or non-government 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.

Scammers commonly target people who are looking for Social Security program and benefit information. If you receive misleading information about Social Security, send the complete advertisement, including the envelope it came in, to:Office of the Inspector General Fraud Hotline, Social Security Administration, P.O. Box 17768, Baltimore, MD 21235

Community can simply mean your family unit. The more you know about what your loved ones are exposed to, the better you can protect them.

We also receive reports where someone pretending to be a Social Security employee has contacted members of the public. The intent of this type of call may be to steal your identity and/or money from your bank accounts. They may state that your Social Security number will be suspended or they may demand immediate payment. The caller generally asks you for personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth, your mother’s maiden name, or your bank or financial account information. You should not provide any of this information to these individuals.

It’s possible that a Social Security employee may contact you to follow up on a previous application for Social Security benefits or other business you initiated with Social Security. Remember, Social Security employees will never threaten you or demand any kind of payment in exchange for services.

It’s important that you report any and all fraud. This can only strengthen our communities and your family. You can report Social Security fraud at oig.ssa.gov/report.

Daniel Damceski is the Staff Assistant / State Liaison for Central Ohio. You can write him c/o Social Security Administration, 200 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215 or via email at daniel.damceski@ssa.gov. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the Herald.

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