Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Consumer Protection - Section 1140

General Overview

Section 1140 of the Social Security Act (Section 1140) (42 United States Code 1320b-10) is a consumer protection law.

Section 1140 prohibits people, companies, and other organizations, from misleading consumers by giving a false impression of association with, or authorization or endorsement by, the Social Security Administration (SSA), through any type of communication, such as:

  • telephone solicitations
  • social media
  • websites
  • email
  • postal mail
  • text messages
  • YouTube, television, and radio broadcasts

Section 1140 also prohibits the:

  • Reproduction and sale of SSA publications and forms without the SSA’s authorization; and Charging fees to assist an individual to obtain a product or service provided free of charge by the SSA, without providing a notice to the customer that:

    • Explains that the product or service is available free of charge from the SSA, and
    • Is clearly and prominently placed and written in a font that is distinguishable from the rest of the text.


Any determination as to whether a communication or sale of SSA forms and publications is a violation, is made without regard to any inclusion of a disclaimer of affiliation with the United States Government or any particular agency or instrumentality thereof.

Penalties for Violations

The SSA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) can impose civil monetary penalties against those who violate Section 1140. The penalty rate, which is adjusted each year for inflation, is currently set at $12,397.00 for each violative communication. If the violation is in the form of a generally aired broadcast the penalty rate is $61,982.00 per airing.

For example, if the violative communication is in the form of a postal mailing or website, each piece of mail or each viewing of the website is subject to a separate penalty. Likewise, each violative sale of a SSA form or publication or each charging of a fee for a free SSA service, is subject to a separate penalty. Each viewing of a YouTube or other Internet video is considered a separate violation and is subject to a penalty up to $12,397.

Injunctive Relief

The Social Security Act also authorizes the OIG to pursue injunctive relief for Section 1140 violations and enjoin an individual or entity from engaging in the violative conduct, and from the concealing, removing, encumbering and/or the disposing of assets, which may be required in order to pay a civil monetary penalty. (42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7a(k)).

Relevant Laws and Regulations

  1. Section 1140 of the Social Security Act
  2. Section 1140 - Code of Federal Regulations
  3. Section 1140 - Injunctive Relief

Highlights of Our Work

Vermont Attorney General Sues Illegal Robocall Carrier TCA VOIP
March 18, 2022 

Background Screening Companies Agree to Pay $103,950 Penalty to Settle Claim They Violated Consumer Protection Law
August 27, 2019 

SSA OIG Announces $10,000 Penalty for Software Company Using SSA’s Official Seal in the Marketing of a Mobile App
August 8, 2019 

LexisNexis Subsidiary Agrees to $54,000 Penalty for “SSA Verify” Marketing
October 23, 2018 

Publisher of Book with “Official SSA Answers to 100 Frequently Asked Questions About Retirement” Agrees to $22,500 Penalty
July 27, 2018 

Owner of Misleading SSA Office Locator Website Agrees to $35,000 Penalty
December 20, 2017 

Texas Company Agrees to $65,000 Penalty to SSA for Using its Name
April 16, 2015 

SSA OIG Combats Increase in Internet-Based Social Security-Related Fraud
January 24, 2013

Looking for U.S. government information and services?