How To Protect Your Social Security Number: 10 Ssn Tips
If you want to help protect yourself against identity theft, protecting your Social Security number is a good start. Your Social Security number is a high-value target for ID theft. Getting an identity theft protection plan is one step to consider.
Your Social Security number, or SSN, is a key piece of personally identifiable information. In the wrong hands like, in the hands of an identity thief your Social Security number might lead to various types of identity theft or fraud.
What can identity thieves do with your Social Security number? Heres a sample:
- Open bank accounts
- Open new credit cards or lines of credit to make purchases in your name
- File tax returns to obtain your refund
- Open new service accounts in your name, such as utilities or internet service
- Put you in major debt
- Destroy your credit score across all three credit bureaus
The Equifax data breach in 2017, which exposed Social Security numbers and other U.S.-consumer information, raised the risk for identity theft of more than 145 million Americans.
Although you cant do anything about a breach, its a good idea to learn what you can do to protect yourself following a breach, and before a subsequent breach. No matter how big or small, no business or industry is immune to cyberthieves who may have identity theft in mind.
Here are some tips for protecting your Social Security number and identity.
How Can I Protect My Identity
Protect your personal information. That helps you protect your identity. Here are some things you can do:
- At home:
- keep your financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards in a safe place
- shred papers that have your personal or medical information
- take mail out of your mailbox as soon as you can
Your Social Security Number
This is where we begin to get into the information that has the greatest value for identity thieves.
Among all those types of information, none is more important than your Social Security number.
The fact is:
It’s the gold standard for identity thieves because it opens so many doors to your financial life.
This is where the combination of general information, like your name, with a Social Security number can be devastating.
This is commonly referred to as personally identifiable information, or PII. When such information is linked to your name, it gives the thief easy access to your identity.
Armed with just your name and your Social Security number, a thief can not only access your accounts but also obtain credit in your name.
How to protect it
You can’t afford to drop the ball on this one, the stakes are simply too high.
- Never carry your Social Security card with you.
- Never give it out where it’s not absolutely necessary.
That includes writing it on a check, other than to the IRS. Also, be sure to store your income tax returns securely.
Many institutions are now showing only the last four digits of your Social Security number, which eliminates a lot of leaks.
Can Someone Access My Bank Account Using My Social Security Number
Although a criminal may be able to steal your social security number and use it to access medical care, benefits and take out new accounts in your name, it is more complex when accessing your existing accounts.
Luckily, identity thieves may find it quite challenging to access your bank accounts with your social security number. Most banks have requirements for additional pieces of identifying information to access your accounts, such as a passport utility bill. Most banks have added layers of security measures to prevent thieves from accessing your accounts, such as security questions and one-time passwords.
However, unfortunately, hackers can find identifying information and personal data to get into your accounts if you do not have the right kinds of protections in place on your computer or mobile device.
Your Social Insurance Number Is Confidential
If your SIN falls into the wrong hands, it could be used to obtain personal information and invade your privacy. When the SIN is not linked to you as its rightful owner, another person could receive your government benefits, tax refunds or bank credits. Your personal information could also be revealed to unauthorized people, which could lead to identity theft and other types of fraud.
If someone uses your SIN to work illegally or to obtain credit, you may suffer hardship. You could be requested to pay additional taxes for income you did not receive or you could have difficulty obtaining credit because someone may have ruined your credit rating.
There are a number of things you can do to protect your SIN:
- provide your SIN only when you know that it is legally required
- store any document containing your SIN and personal information in a safe placedo not keep it with you
- contact Service Canada if you change your name, if your temporary citizenship status changes to a permanent resident status or if information on your SIN record is incorrect or incomplete
- take immediate measures to protect your SIN when you suspect someone else is using your SIN fraudulently
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How Will I Know If Someone Steals My Identity
Read your bills and account statements. Watch for:
- things you did not buy
- withdrawals you did not make
- a change of your address that you did not expect
- bills that stop coming
Look at medical statements. You might see charges you do not recognize. That might mean someone stole your identity.
Get your credit report. You get one free credit report every year from each credit reporting company.
- Answer questions from a recorded system. You have to give your address, Social Security number, and birth date.
- Choose to only show the last four numbers of your Social Security number. It is safer than showing the full number on your report.
- Choose which credit reporting company you want a report from.
The company mails your report to you. It should arrive two to three weeks after you call.
Read your credit report carefully. Look for mistakes or accounts you do not recognize. This could mean someone stole your identity.
How Will I Know If Someone Is Using My Identity
Here are some things to look for, according to the Federal Trading Commission , the authority on identity restoration in the case of theft:
Check your bank statement often at least every month to make sure there arent any withdrawals or transactions you didnt make.
If you use personal checks, and they are suddenly no longer welcome at places they used to be.
Bills and regular mail stops coming.
You get phone calls from debt collectors about unpaid amounts for which you cant account.
You get mail in your name thats obviously intended for another person. This person could be using your name and address.
There are suspicious items on your credit report.
You get medical bills in the mail. Or worse, youre told youve reached your maximum benefit of your medical plan even when you know you didnt use them up.
You get W-2s for companies for whom youve never worked or the IRS notifies you of another tax return filed in your name.
More certainly, you get an email or letter stating your information was compromised in a data breach. You should be offered free restoration in such case be sure to save all communication regarding the breach.
Your wallet and its contents are lost or stolen. Notify all credit card companies and banks and request new cards . If your Social Security card was in your lost or stolen wallet, here are some additional steps you can take to protect yourself.
How Do Social Security Numbers Get Stolen
Identity theft and fraud is a booming black market business. According to the Federal Trade Commission , as many as 9 million reports of ID theft happen each year–and with individuals online footprint expanding these numbers seem to be on the rise.
The most common ways SSNs are stolen:
- Stuffing creating false websites that look like commonly used websites in order to obtain login and other personal information
- Phishing pretending to be financial institutions or popular regularly-used companies in order to get you to reveal your personal information
- Pretexting getting personal information under false pretenses and then selling it to other people or the dark web
- Hacking exploiting weakness in a computer system either easily through unsecured wifi networks or more elaborate breaches into semi-secured websites
- Dumpster Diving thieves have been known to go through peoples trash to look for bills and other discarded papers with personal information on it
- Stealing stealing wallets, purses, personnel records, or bribing employees who have access to mail, which includes bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, new checks, or tax information
What Happens When A Family Member Steals Your Identity
Knowing that someone has used your personal information for financial gain is one thing, but when that person is close to you, its entirely another. What happens when you suffer at the hands of a family member who victimizes you to commit identity theft?
He was sentenced to 3 years probation with 6 months home confinement, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $123,103.40. Selleck received disability benefits for 8 years while working as a maintenance engineer for Turner Broadcasting Systems, Incorporated.
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The rise of technology has brought new threats to your personal data and its security. Identity theft is a crime that strikes at the heart of a modern citizens wealth, employment, social services, and more. Our identity specifically, the electronically-encoded identity that serves as the gateway to our bank accounts, to our home security systems, to our e-mail and network resources can be stolen by unscrupulous people and used for crimes great and small.
At best, an identity thief may use part of your identity as the launchpad for some phony persona that they are using to commit acts of fraud and light scams. At worst, they can drain your bank accounts, destroy your credit rating, and wipe out your hard-earned retirement benefits. Identity theft is not a minor crime in 2018, more than 60 million Americans reported that they were affected by identity theft.
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Commit Crimes Under Your Name
Surprise, surprise. A criminal can use your Social Security number to yep, you guessed it commit more crimes. For example, if the thief gets caught and arrested for a crime, he or she can give your stolen Social Security number out to the police.
The consequences of this switcheroo are not hard to imagine. You can be stuck with a crime you didnt commit, tainting your criminal background checks and your chances for employment. Again, clearing your name might take years so its definitely a bad spot to be in.
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Hackers Stole Millions Of Social Security Numbers From T
Hackers have found their way again into T-Mobile’s systems, the fourth reported breach of the company’s data since early 2020. This time, the haul included sensitive personal information associated with about 48 million people, most of whom were former or prospective customers of the self-styled “un-carrier.”
Here is a breakdown of what happened, the risks you might face and how you can protect yourself against them.
Which Is The Worst Form Of Identity Theft
Its the worst form of identity theft A Social Security number may be the single most important piece of government-issued identification that U.S. resident can have. Its definitely the most valuable piece of ID that identity thieves can get their hands on, especially when the number is combined with the rightful bearers name and address.
Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit fraud. The identity thief may use your information to fraudulently apply for credit, file taxes, or get medical services.
How Does Someone Use Social Engineering To Steal Your Identity
But breaking into your email or stealing your physical phone are not the only pathways someone can use social engineering to nab your identity. A practice known as phone hijacking happens when someone gets enough information about you from a variety of sources, then contacts your cellular provider.
What Is Social Security Number Protection
Identity theft can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive to resolve. Many people are turning to identity monitoring to better safeguard their most personal information. Social Security monitoring involves using a scanning system to alert users when any suspicious activity happens. Some advanced social security protection services utilize the help of licensed private investigators who then run advanced SSN Skip Trace searches to uncover hidden theft and fraud.
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Where Should You Store Your Social Security
Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet or documents containing your Social Security number. If you receive bank statements or other documents that contain your Social Security number, keep them safe or properly shred them if you dont need them.
Make sure you keep your Social Security card in a safe, locked location in your house where you can find it and get it when you need it, advice from Amy Nofziger, director of victim support at AARPs Fraud Watch Network. Make sure to trash any documents that contain personal information. A cross-cut or confetti shredder is recommended.
What To Do If Someone Steals Your Social Security Number
You may want to contact the Internal Revenue Service . An identity thief also might use your Social Security number to file a tax return to receive your refund. If youre eligible for a refund, a thief could file a tax return before you do and get your refund. Then, when you do file, the IRS will think you already received your refund.
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What Is A Credit Report
Your credit report is a summary of your credit history. It lists:
- your name, address, and Social Security number
- your credit cards
- how much money you owe
- if you pay your bills on time or late
All the information in the credit report should be about you. Get a copy of your credit report. Make sure you recognize the information in it. If you do not, you need to try to fix it.
Learn more about your credit history, including how to get your free credit report.
What Can A Thief Do With Your Social Security Number
Because an SSN is unique to every individual, it is a very useful identification tool. But since its difficult to use on its own, criminals get quite crafty when it comes to using your Social Security number.
In essence, all types of SSN-related identity thefts use the number plus your additional information to bypass identification procedures in social and financial institutions.
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Keep Your Identity Safe
If you use an online application to do your taxes, you can now log in with your username, password and a third personal item like a phone number. Using all 3 will keep your identity and data safer.
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.
If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must file a paper return.
Kinds Of Id Theft Using A Social Security Number
With the Equifax breach still fresh in our minds, many of us are wondering if our financeslet alone our identitiesare safe and secure. If youre one of the 145.5 million potential victims of the 2017 Equifax data breach, the hackers may have the so-called skeleton key to your finances and, ultimately, your identity: your one and only Social Security number.
What exactly can a thief do with your Social Security number? The answer isnt pretty, especially if they also have access to other personal data, as the Equifax hackers may.
Whether youve had your Social Security number stolen or are trying to keep it secure, its important to know what criminals can do with it, so you know how to recognize red flags.
One of the identity theft-related crimes most people think of is credit card fraud. However, credit card fraud may be just one of the crimes that can be committed if a criminal assumes your identity with your Social Security number and other personal information.
While stolen credit cards and the like can be cancelled and replaced, it can be difficult to obtain a new Social Security number. The Social Security Administration requires that you prove your identity and provide evidence that someone is misusing your Social Security number and causing you significant continuing harm. In fact, until you sort everything out, the Internal Revenue Service and other government entities may not know if you or the criminal who has stolen your identity is the real you.