Easy Ways To Spot A Fraudulent Phone Call Text Email Or Letter
Thomas J Catalano is a CFP and Registered Investment Adviser with the state of South Carolina, where he launched his own financial advisory firm in 2018. Thomas’ experience gives him expertise in a variety of areas including investments, retirement, insurance, and financial planning.
With some 65 million Americans receiving Social Security benefits, it isn’t surprising that scam artists invoke the program’s name in fraudulent phone calls, texts, emails, and letters. Their schemes typically involve impersonating the Social Security Administration in order to obtain, and then misuse, Social Security numbers and other personal information. Heres a rundown, by mode of delivery, of common Social Security scams, along with the steps to take to avoid and report them.
Report The Fraud To The Three Major Credit Bureaus
You can report the identity theft to all three of the major credit bureaus by calling any one of the toll-free fraud numbers below. You will reach an automated telephone system and you will not be able to speak to anyone at this time. The system will ask you to enter your Social Security number and other information to identify yourself. The automated system allows you to flag your file with a fraud alert at all three bureaus. This helps stop a thief from opening new accounts in your name. The alert stays on for 90 days. Each of the credit bureaus will send you a letter confirming your fraud alert and giving instructions on how to get a copy of your credit report. As a victim of identity theft, you will not be charged for these reports. Each report you receive will contain a telephone number you can call to speak to someone in the credit bureaus fraud department.
Freeze Your Childs Credit Report
If your child is under 16, you can request a free credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, to make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your child’s name. The freeze stays in place until you tell the credit bureaus to remove it.
To activate a credit freeze, contact each of the three credit bureaus. Find their contact information at IdentityTheft.gov.
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How To Check If Someone Else Is Using Your Social Security Number
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.
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.
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Tips For Recognizing Identity Theft
Below are some tips for recognizing when you have possibly been a victim of identity theft:
- If you did not receive an expected bill or statement by mail – or you receive a bill for something you didn’t order.
- If unexpected charges occurr on your account credit cards.
- If there are charges on your account from unrecognized vendors.
- If posted checks appear on your Bank account significantly out of sequence.
- If you receive credit cards that you didn’t apply for, in your name or someone else’s!
- If you are denied credit or are offered less than favorable credit terms for no reason.
- If you get calls from creditors or debt collectors regarding merchandise or services that you did not buy.
Getting A Social Security Number For A New Baby
The easiest way to get a Social Security number for your child is at the hospital after they are born when you apply for your childs birth certificate. If you wait to apply for a number at a Social Security office, there may be delays while SSA verifies your childs birth certificate.
Your child will need their own Social Security number so you can:
- Claim your child as a dependent on your income tax return
- Open a bank account in their name
- Get medical coverage for them
- Apply for government services for them
Keep your Social Security card in a safe place to protect yourself from identity theft.
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Someones Got Your Number What Can You Do
Figuring out that someone has your Social Security Number is one thing. Fixing the problem is another. If you think someone is using your Social Security Number, you need to move quickly.
You have four things you need to do. You need to contact the Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft, contact the credit reference agencies to report the theft, contact the Social Security Administration, and contact your local police.
- The FTC is at 1-877-438-4338 or . There is a form to complete to report identity theft.
- Contact the three credit reference agencies and ask them to place a freeze on your credit report. This will prevent any new applications being created in your name. This will stop more debt from piling up.
- Contact the SSA on 1-800-269-0271 or Log on to the IRS Identity Protection website to alert them and prevent any tax returns from being filed in your name.
- Optionally, but recommended, alert the Internet Crime Complaints Center at . They alert other agencies that your SSN has been compromised.
Once all that has been done, report the crime to your local police. If you know how the theft took place, for example, you had your wallet stolen, the police will want to know where the theft would have happened, and what transpired.
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When Not To Provide Your Sin
Some businesses may ask for your SIN. This is strongly discouraged, but not illegal.
For example, you do not have to provide your SIN to:
- prove your identity
- apply for a job
- negotiate a lease with a landlord
- apply for a credit card
- cash a cheque
- complete some banking transactions
- complete a medical questionnaire
- sign up for cell phone, Internet or TV services
- write a will
- apply to a university or college
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Important Resources For Identity Theft Victims:
Did you know that it is illegal for collection agencies to harass you once you have notified them that the debt is due to Identity Theft? Here are some steps to take if you find yourself in this situation:
- Contact the fraud department of any one of the three major credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your file.
- Close the accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use the ID Theft Affidavit when disputing new unauthorized accounts.
- File a police report where you live.
- Get a copy of the report or report number.
- Contact any of the other agencies specific to your particular type of Identity Theft.
- File your complaint with FTC.
- Follow up in writing. Attach a police report/number along with any other documentation you may have. Send Certified Mail – Return Receipt Requested.
- Document everything!
Fraudulent Threatening Phone Calls
When the National Council on Aging announced its “Scams to Watch Out For” in 2019, bogus phone calls related to Social Security benefits topped the list. The Federal Trade Commission says the number of such calls and their financial impact is growing exponentially.
The calls often involve peopleor robotic voicespretending to be from the Social Security Administration who try to get your Social Security number or demand money, according to the FTC. The agency warns that callers sometimes use spoofing techniques to make the genuine Social Security hotline number appear on the recipients caller ID screen. The caller may also identify themselves using the name of an actual SSA official.
The SSA says the language used in these calls has become increasingly threatening in recent years. The caller typically states that due to improper or illegal activity with the persons Social Security number or account, they will be arrested or face other legal action unless they call a particular phone number to address the issue.
The tone of such calls is itself an indicator that they are fraudulent. The SSA does contact some recipients by phone, but theyre almost always people who have current business with the agency. And an SSA employee will never threaten you for information they will not state that you face potential arrest or other legal action if you fail to provide information, the agency says. In cases the call is fraudulent.
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What To Do If Your Social Security Number Gets Out
If you think you’ve been the victim of identity theft using your Social Security number, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission, your local police department and any businesses that may’ve been given your number fraudulently.
If you think your number has been used illicitly to get a job or access your tax return, you can also contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or visit the IRS’ identity theft site.
Though it’s possible to get a new Social Security number, it likely won’t solve all your problems, according to the FTC.
“Sometimes getting a new number can leave you worse off,” Steve Toporoff with the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection said in a statement, “because you need to contact all the government agencies, financial institutions, credit bureaus, health insurers and other places where the old Social Security number might be used.”
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Contacting The Ssa By Telephone
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Make Sure You Fall Under One Of The Five Eligible Situations
The most common reasons why youâll want to get a new SSN are identity theft and personal danger.
These are the only situations in which the SSA will consider giving you a new number. You cannot get a new Social Security number if your card is lost but thereâs no evidence that someone is using it, if youâre trying to avoid the law or creditors, or to avoid the consequences of filing for bankruptcy.
If you lose your Social Security card and don’t believe anyone is using it, you should request a replacement card with your old number.
How We Use Your Social Security Number
We use your Social Security Number to verify your income and work history by checking for wages reported by your recent employers. If there is a mismatch between what you told us when you applied for benefits and the wages reported by employers, that difference could be due to a simple mistake in what you told us, what we entered into our system, or what your employer reported. It is also possible that the difference is due to someone else using your SSN, which is sometimes called “identity theft.”
It is important to correct wage history errors because if you receive benefits based on incorrect wages or wages that are not yours, you must repay any overpayment.
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Can You Look Up Someone By Their Social Security Number
If youre interested in finding someone and checking criminal records and other public records using a social security number, you can discreetly run a background check online.
In fact, you dont even need to use an SSN almost all the available public records in our SSN search have been compiled and sorted so that you can search with just a name and last known city and state.
As youll see, the preview results can be helpful to ensure youve got the right person and get an idea of the information thats available its quick, free, and might give you enough information for further searching. If you decide you want to dig deeper, you can get reports starting from about $10 not free, but its instant and thorough.
There are also options for unlimited searches for one low rate, so if youre doing a lot of research, the cost per search can drop significantly. In fact, this is exactly what many private investigators do .
We Protect Your Messages
Secure messages you send us on chase.comare protected, but messages you send to us outside of chase.com might not be secure. If you need to send us Social Security numbers, account numbers or other confidential information, please only send it in a secure message on chase.com. You can also , visit one of our branches or send it by U.S. mail.
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Check If Your Child Has A Credit Report
Generally, a child under 18 wont have a credit report unless someone is using his or her information for fraud. A good way to find out if someone is using your childs information to commit fraud is to check if your child has a credit report. To do that, contact the three credit bureaus and ask for a manual search for your child’s Social Security number. You may have to give the credit bureaus a copy of
- your drivers license or other government-issued identification card
- proof of your address, like a utility bill, or a credit card or insurance statement
- your childs birth certificate
- your childs Social Security card
If youre not the childs parent, you may have to give the credit bureaus a copy of documents that prove you are the childs legal guardian.
When Your Child Turns 16
When your child turns 16, you may want to check if theres a credit report in his or her name. This could help you spot identity theft, since children under 18 usually dont have a credit report. If theres inaccurate information in your childs credit report, youll have time to correct it before he or she applies for a job, a college loan, a car loan, or a credit card, or tries to rent a place to live.
How To Protect Your Social Security Number
By the time you’re an adult, your Social Security number has been entered into so many databases it’s impossible to keep it 100% secure. But there are steps consumers can take to better protect their account numbers.
Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep it in a safe place at home. And shred any documents or pieces of mail that include your number, rather than just throwing them out. Also, If you’re asked for your SSN, find out why.
“You should feel empowered to ask, ‘Why do you need this? Where are you storing this?'” Hanson said. “‘Is there another piece of information I can use instead?'”
If a company asks for your Social Security number, find out if there’s an alternate form of identification you can use.
Hanson recently took her daughter for a doctor’s visit, and the form at the counter requested both of their SSNs.
“There was really no need for them,” Hanson said. “So I left it blank on the form and they didn’t say anything.”
Another way to protect your Social Security number is by “freezing” your credit reports with Transunion, Equifax and Experian.
If someone tries to use your number to open a credit card or get a loan, the request for your credit report will be declined. You can freeze your report indefinitely or set a specific “thaw” date.
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