June 6, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Greenwood

Don't be scammed: Make sure all SOS visits are official

Military veterans who served in any branch of the U.S. armed forces and have an honorable or under honorable conditions (general) discharge may have a veteran designation printed on their Michigan driver's license or state identification card (michigan.gov)

Scam alert.

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office has issued a warning to residents about phony websites passing themselves off as offering SOS services for a fee and then not delivering on the transaction.

SOS Ruth Johnson has advised residents to be sure to check to make sure that the website is the official Michigan.gov site.

The SOS has been receiving numerous complaints from clients who believed they visited a secretary of state website to complete a transaction and paid a fee, only to later discover that the fee didn’t go to the state and that they did not get the service they needed.

To put a little salt in the wound, many of the services/information being paid for are available free of charge on the official department website.

“Double-check the web address to make sure it’s an official state of Michigan site before you pay for services that might be free,” Johnson said.

According to the SOS, the unofficial sites often give the initial impression of being a DMV website but if you look closer, they may have a notification they are not affiliated with a government agency.

Some sites sell “guides” about how to obtain a driver’s license that may be nothing more than electronic versions of free literature that motorists can get online or at any SOS office.

Official secretary of state online services can be accessed by going to www.Michigan.gov/sos or www.ExpressSOS.com, which redirects users to the Michigan.gov site. State of Michigan web pages all have Michigan.gov in the address or state.mi.us.

Service alert

As of May 1, Michigan veterans can display their proof of service on their driver’s license. The new license — which has the word “veteran” imprinted in bold red on the front of the card — is available to all honorably discharged Michigan veterans.

You have to offer proof of your honorable discharge.

If veterans are renewing their license or ID card, or applying for one for the first time, they will pay only the normal driver’s license or ID card fee. If veterans want the license before it’s time to renew, a duplicate can be bought for $9.

Qualifying services include the U.S. Air Force, Air Force National Guard, Army, Army National Guard, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as their Reserve components.

Here’s the required documentation:

■DD214 (or correction DD215), Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, any copy except Copy 1.

■Form NGB FM 22 or 23, Report of Separation and Record of Service, which must indicate honorable or general discharge. Forms WD AGO, such as WD AGO 53-55, Enlisted Record and Report of Separation Honorable Discharge.

■GSA 6954, Certificate of Military Service. NAVPERS 553, Extract of Notice of Separation from U.S. Naval Service. VA Veteran Health Identification card.

The SOS will accept other documents issued prior to 1950 if they indicate an honorable or general discharge. Photocopies are acceptable.

(313) 222-2023