How Can Someone Steal My Social Security Number
There are several ways that criminals look to steal peoples social security numbers. For example, thieves have found them by simply searching through trash to find personal documentation. Your social security number could also be at risk in the online sphere, with cybercriminals able to exploit data breaches and then either use your details themselves or sell them on the dark web.
Signing Up For Credit Monitoring
Your credit card company or one of the credit bureaus may offer free credit monitoring, especially if you have previously been the victim of identity theft or a data breach. If not, you can purchase the service. These services monitor your credit reports for suspicious activity and alert you when a new account is opened using your information.
Types Of Social Security Fraud
Social Security fraud can be categorized in different ways:
Social Security benefits fraud occurs when an individual applies for Social Security benefits and intentionally provides bogus application information.
Shielding or Concealing Personal Information
Concealing personal data or information that could impact Social Security payments and benefits is another form of Social Security fraud. Accepting Social Security income for a child not under one’s care and supervision is a good example of “concealment” fraud.
When an individual steals or otherwise directly benefits from Social Security payments, while acting as a representative for a legitimate beneficiary who is incapacitated, that constitutes Social Security fraud. Stealing the identity of, or otherwise impersonating a Social Security Administration staffer or manager, is also considered Social Security fraud.
Purchase or Sale of Social Security IDs and Data
This form of Social Security fraud is defined as the buying and selling of Social Security cards, or Social Security information, on the black market or dark web.
Illegitimate Deceased Benefits Fraud
Failure to notify the Social Security Administration of the death of a family member beneficiary while continuing to accept the deceased’s Social Security benefits counts as Social Security fraud.
Supplemental Social Security Fraud
Representative Payee Fraud
“Failure to Report” Fraud
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How Thieves Steal Ssns
There are several ways thieves can get a hold of your SSN. The most obvious is by stealing the physical Social Security card. Be sure to keep it in a secure place. This is a no-brainer.
Things get more tricky when we go online. The three most used methods for stealing Social Security Numbers are phishing, malware and data breaches.
Phishing attempts are nothing new. In their efforts to steal your identity, jack your crypto or drain your rewards account, thieves use ever-more convincing methods to trick you into sharing your personal information. They often create fake websites that resemble websites of real companies that you may use regularly. The goal is to trick you into entering your private information. Often scammers will send spoofing emails with links asking you to re-enter your login information or even your SSN.
Malware falls more under the traditional hacker category. Thieves who use this method to steal personal information, including Social Security numbers, infect your computer or mobile devices with software. That software can record your keystrokes, and if you type in your social security number at some point, that will be recorded. Other types of malware steal information from files on your device.
Data breaches are a major threat to consumers because its difficult to manage your data, including Social Security Number, once submitted to a website or service and stored on their servers.
What To Do If Someone Steals Your Tax Refund
If someone uses your Social Security number to file for a tax refund before you do, youll usually find out when you file your return with the IRS.
If you file by mail, the IRS will mail you a letter explaining that they received more than one return in your name. Follow the instructions in the letter.
If you try to submit your tax return online or through a tax preparer, the IRS will reject your tax return as a duplicate filing. If this happens, go to IdentityTheft.gov and report it. IdentityTheft.gov will create your
- FTC Identity Theft Report
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A Message From Social Security
We are committed to preventing, detecting, and eliminating fraud in our programs.
Our mission is to deliver services that meet the changing needs of the public. Every day our employees diligently work to ensure the public receives the services and benefits they deserve. We strive to ensure the integrity of our programs and provide a high level of service to the public despite the efforts of those who seek to abuse our programs.
How To Know If Your Social Security Number Has Been Stolen
People often find out their Social Security number has been stolen when they go to open an account or file their taxes and find out someone else has already done so using their name. However, other warning signs someone has stolen your SSN include:
- Getting mail in someone elses name
- Receiving debt collection calls when you havent defaulted on anything
- Receiving new credit or debit cards in the mail you didnt request
One of the best ways you can make sure no one has stolen your SSN is to keep an eye on your credit report. Regularly checking your credit report and bank accounts can ensure you catch that something may be amiss as soon as possible. If you see an error or an account you dont recognize, make sure to follow up with the financial institution. It may just be an errorwhich will need to be addressed anywaybut its better to be safe than sorry.
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How To Tell If Someone Is Using Your Identity
An identity thief could use your information to get credit or service in your name.
How to spot it: Get your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. Review it for accounts you didnt open or inquiries you dont recognize. A new credit card, a personal loan, or a car loan will appear as a new account. A new cell phone plan or utility service like water, gas, or electric will show up as an inquiry.
An identity thief could use your credit card or take money out of your bank account.
- How to spot it: Check your credit card or bank statement when you get it. Look for purchases or withdrawals you didnt make.
- Bonus advice: Sign up to get text or email alerts from your credit card or bank whenever theres a new transaction. This could help you spot unauthorized or fraudulent activity on your account.
An identity thief could steal your tax refund or use your Social Security number to work.
- How to spot it: A notice from the IRS that theres more than one tax return filed in your name could be a sign of tax identity theft. So could a notice that you have income from an employer you dont work for.
An identity thief could use your health insurance to get medical care.
- How to spot it: Review your medical bills and Explanation of Benefits statements for services you didnt get. They could be a sign of medical identity theft.
Stolen Social Security Numbers And Identity Theft
According to Javelin Research, for the first time ever, Social Security numbers were compromised more than credit card numbers in personal data breaches.
Identity theft occurs when personal data is stolen from an individual with the intention of committing fraud. Stolen data that can be used for fraud includes your name, date of birth, Social Security number , or your driver’s license and credit cards, according to the U.S. SSA.
“To a thief, your SSN is usually the key to unlocking your identity,” the SSA notes. “Identity thieves can use your Social Security number and your good credit to apply for loans, credit cards, and other benefits in your name. Identity thieves then use the credit cards without paying the bills, thereby damaging your finances, credit history, and reputation.”
Once an identity thief has a victim’s Social Security number, the fraudster can use it to obtain medical benefits, file a fraudulent state or federal tax refund, apply for new credit and/or credit cards, or steal your disability or other benefits.
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Things Identity Thieves Could Use Your Ssn For
Commit Crimes Using Your Name
Dont have a criminal history? Well, you could end up with one if a real criminal gives your social security number to the police. If they have your SSN, they could falsely assume your identity so the police dont find out about their past crimes. Having a crime appear on your background check could impact your chances at getting a job and purchasing a home.
Get Loans and Credit Cards In Your Name
Having someone get loans and credit cards in your name is financial suicide! They can purchase whatever they want without paying for it. Youll end up with the bill, and since you likely cant pay the fraudulent charges off, your credit score will be negatively impacted.
File A Fake Tax Refund/Return
An identity thief with your SSN could assume your identity and claim a pending tax refund you have. These criminals try to beat their victims to the punch by claiming the return early on in tax season. Victims will typically find this out when their tax refund is denied multiple times.
Medical Care and Insurance Theft
If someone has your social security information, they could claim to be you and use your health insurance to receive medical care. However, this is way deadlier than you may think. If there are medical records on file about the criminal , it could lead to a medical mix-up down the road when you need care. And not to mention the expensive medical bills youll be left to pay!
Steal Your Social Security Benefits
Measures You Can Take To Prevent Identity Theft
- Do not routinely carry your SSN.
- Never say your SSN aloud in public.
- Beware of phishing scams to trick you into revealing personal information.
- Create a personal account to help you keep track of your records and identify any suspicious activity.
- Consider adding these blocks to your account with us:
- The eServices block It prevents anyone, including you, from seeing or changing your personal information on the internet. Once we add the block, you or your representative will need to contact your local office to request removal of the block.
- The Direct Deposit Fraud Prevention block This prevents anyone, including you, from enrolling in direct deposit or changing your address or direct deposit information through or a financial institution . Once we add the block, you or your representative will need to contact your local office to request removal of the block or make any future changes to direct deposit or contact information.
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Don’t Take Your Social Security Data For Granted
Your Social Security card, and number, are your financial lifelines to the U.S. government, in the form of benefits, key documents , and personal identification. It’s also a number that’s widely used by financial, business and medical institutions to manage individual accounts.
That’s why it’s so important to safeguard your Social Security data, and keep fraud artists away from you, and wall you off from Social Security fraud.
They Can Use Your Ssn To Get A Drivers License In Your Name
When asked for a photo identity, you are likely to whip out your drivers license. It is accepted as proof of who you are, where you live and how old you are. So if an identity thief is able to obtain a drivers license in your name, it opens many fraudulent doors.
To get a drivers license, you generally have to pass a written test, a driving test and an eye exam, and provide your name, address and SSN. A hacker might be able to get a drivers license in your name without you even knowing it.
Pro tip: If you believe that your name and Social Security number were used to obtain a fraudulent drivers license, immediately contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Warning signs could be traffic tickets issued in states you have never visited or warrants for your arrest you know nothing about.
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Ways To Report Social Security Fraud
What do you do if you witness or suspect Social Security fraud? Report it. Here are four ways:
In fiscal year 2015, the Office of the Inspector General received 89,000 allegations through the fraud hotline.
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Here’s Where To Get More Information On Social Security Numbers
Identity Theft: If you think an identity thief is using your SSN to work or to collect benefits, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. If you think someone may be using your SSN to work, check your Social Security Personal Earnings and Benefit Statement. You can get a copy by calling 1-800-772-1213, or online at www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7004.pdf. Also see the Social Security Administration’s booklet “Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number,” at www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html.
History of SSNs: For a chronology of the laws relating to SSNs, see www.ssa.gov/history/ssn/ssnchron.html.
What the Numbers Mean: For an explanation of the meaning of the numbers in SSNs and answers to other questions about SSNs, see www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/.
More on Protecting your SSN: “Fact Sheet 10: My Social Security Number: How Secure Is It?” from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, at www.privacyrights.org.
Recommended Practices: For recommendations on how organizations can protect privacy in their handling of SSNs, see Recommended Practices for Protecting the Confidentiality of Social Security Numbers on the Business page at www.privacy.ca.gov.
Switch The Inflationary Tether To The Chained Cpi
A sneaky way the government could choose to reduce Social Security benefits is by switching the tether that measures inflation and therefore determines the annual cost-of-living adjustments .
Since COLA was introduced in the mid-1970s, it’s had the same inflationary measure: the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W. Neither the Democrats nor Republicans particularly care for this inflationary measure since it reflects the spending habits of working-age urban and clerical workers and not of seniors, who comprise a majority of Social Security’s beneficiaries.
For Republicans, the solution would be to the switch to the Chained CPI. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the Chained CPI is the same inflationary tether that was introduced with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last December. Though the Chained CPI and the CPI-W are very similar, there is one very big difference: The Chained CPI takes into account substitution bias.
Use Social Security As A Future
Social Security benefits could also be used as a loan program today that could reduce payouts in the future, which is the cornerstone of a recently introduced Republican plan.
The Economic Security for New Parents Act, introduced roughly a month ago by Marco Rubio, a senator from Florida, would allow parents the option of using future Social Security benefits to take extended leave following the birth of a child. In theory, this would take the burden of paying for leave off of employers, as well as provide a new source of income for parents. In return, parents using this “loan” would be required to wait longer to receive their retired worker benefit when they hit their claiming age.
Among the numerous issues with this bill, one of the biggest problems is that it would reduce the lifetime benefits of those who took advantage of extended leave. An analysis from the Urban Institute, a think tank, found that a single 12-week leave could reduce lifetime benefits by 3%. For a family with four kids, four 12-week absences would reduce lifetime payouts by a whopping 10%.
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How To Know If Someone Is Using Your Medical Information
Besides taking steps to protect your medical information, it pays to know how to tell if someone is using your medical information. Here are some warning signs:
- You get a bill from your doctor for services you didnt get.
- You notice errors in your Explanation of Benefits statement like services you didnt get or prescription medications you dont take.
- You get a call from a debt collector about a medical debt you dont owe.
- You review your credit report and see medical debt collection notices that you dont recognize.
- You get a notice from your health insurance company saying you reached your benefit limit.
- You are denied insurance coverage because your medical records show a pre-existing condition you dont have.