How Do You Check To See If Someone Has Been Using Your Social Security Number
In today’s electronic world, it has become even easier for thieves to gain access to your sensitive personal information. Thousands of data breaches occur each year, and this only makes it more and more likely that you will become the victim of ID theft. All it takes is a scammer gaining access to your Social Security number, and then they are off to the races! These identity thieves show no mercy, and they can quickly wreck your finances.
There are steps you should take to make sure that no one has gained unauthorized access to your SSN. Staying ahead of things can make it much easier to fix any problems that might arise if you do happen to fall victim to Social Security identity theft. Here are some of the things that you need to do to see if someone is using your Social Security number.
You must keep a close eye on your credit report. You can obtain a free copy at annualcreditreport.com, and you should check it regularly. This is one of the first ways that you will notice someone has gained access to your SSN and is using it to open new accounts. Next, sign up for a My Social Security account at SSA.gov to view your latest Social Security statement. You can verify your earnings and work history to make sure that nothing suspicious appears there. It is also a good idea to get a copy of your latest tax transcript from the IRS. This will let you know whether anyone other than you has filed a tax return using your SSN.
Guiding Clients Through The Creation Of Their My Social Security Account
If youre a financial advisor, the chances are high that youve already established your own my Social Security account . But it may have been several years or longer since youve created your account or helped walk a family member, friend, or client through the process.
In order to create a my Social Security account, individuals should visit www.ssa.gov/myaccount, and click the Create an Account button, after which individuals will be brought to another page, where they will need to click another Create New Account button .
From there, users will be prompted to agree to the Terms of Service, which include acknowledging that false or misleading statements can lead to civil and/or criminal penalties, as well as important restrictions on the extent to which others may aid in the process to establish the account .
After agreeing to the Terms of Service, clients will be required to provide some basic information, including the following:
- First and last name, as shown on their Social Security card;
- Social Security number;
- Home address; and
- Email address.
Note that in an effort to help increase the security of workers my Social Security accounts, beginning June 10, 2017, two-factor authentication is required each time an individual logs into their account. Workers have the opportunity to provide a valid cell phone number to use for this purpose.
Significant Changes In Your Credit Score
Your credit score is how the credit reporting agencies like Transunion, Equifax, and Experian track your credit history and creditworthiness. Your score is based on a number of factors like the length of time you have had credit, how much outstanding debt you have, and how many new accounts you have opened recently. If your score changes significantly, then it might be a sign that someone is using your SSN to open new credit accounts. If you notice this sudden change, then you should immediately get a copy of your credit report and examine it for accounts that do not belong to you.
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Your Social Security Statement Explained
On October 1, 1999, the Social Security Administration beganmailing new annual Social Security Statements of estimated benefitsto over 125 million workers. More than 300,000 statements aremailed each day. If you are age 25 or older and are not currentlyreceiving Social Security benefits, you can expect to receive yourstatement near your birthday.
The SSA also has an online, interactive calculator on its Internetsite. You can use this calculator to estimate your Social Securitybenefits. This calculator is available at the Social Security Website at www.ssa.gov.
Income Verification Protections: Check Local Laws
As a landlord considering tenant applicants, you must be sure that you are not using any protected class of information to make your tenant screening decisions.
As of right now, sources of income are not considered a protected class under the FHA. However, your local state or locality can add ;more protections. Its always a good idea to keep up to date with your local laws.
Bill To Resume Annual Social Security Statement Mailings Moves Forward In The House
Note to newsletter subscribers: The Personal and Retirement newsletters will be merging. Starting Dec. 16, Ill be producing one newsletter a week, which will be delivered to your inbox on Mondays. Ill continue to write about general personal finance issues, but with a greater emphasis on retirement planning for all ages.
You may not have realized you werent getting this important document, but the House Ways and Means Committee recently passed the Know Your Social Security Act, which would require the government to resume mailing annual earnings Social Security statements to millions of workers 25 and older.
Your Social Security statement provides information about your earnings records, estimated benefits and about how much you or your family would receive in disability, survivor or retirement benefits. This data is key in determining how much you need to save and invest for retirement. In November, the average monthly retirement benefit was $1,431.06.
Initially, a personal earnings and benefit statement was mailed to eligible workers nearing retirement. By 2000, the Social Security Administration began mailing the statements to workers about three months before their birthdays.
But in 2011, SSA stopped sending out the annual paper statements to save money. The following year, the agency launched a secure online version of the statement, which can be viewed at any time.
Q: If Ive forgotten my password or User ID what happens?
Reader Question of the Week
Your Projected Social Security Benefits
Would you take a job without knowing the rate of pay? In a way, the same principle applies if you don’t know what you’re looking at when it comes to your estimated Social Security benefits. If you don’t know what your number is, how do you know if it’s going to be enough for you to maintain a comfortable lifestyle? Your statement will give you an estimated rundown of how much more you’ll receive in benefits at full retirement age, as well as how much less you’ll get if you claim early retirement benefits at age 62, and how much more you’ll get if you delay further until age 70. This is a biggie. Know your estimated number.
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.
How Do Benefits Work And How Can I Qualify
While you work, you pay Social Security taxes. This tax money goes into a trust fund that pays benefits to:
Those who are currently retired
To people with disabilities
To the surviving spouses and children of workers who have died
Each year you work, youll get credits to help you become eligible for benefits when its time for you to retire. Find all the benefits Social Security Administration offers.
There are four main types of benefits that the SSA offers:
Learn about earning limits if you plan to work while receiving Social Security benefits
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How To Stop Social Security Check Payments
The SSA can not pay benefits for the month of a recipients death. That means if the person died in July, the check received in August must be returned. Find out how to return a check to the SSA.
If the payment is by direct deposit, notify the financial institution as soon as possible so it can return any payments received after death. For more about the requirement to return benefits for the month of a beneficiarys death, see the top of page 11 of this SSA publication.
Family members may be eligible for Social Security survivors benefits when a person getting benefits dies. Visit the SSA’s Survivors Benefits page to learn more.
The Government No Longer Is Mailing Paper Statements To Most Workers
We used to receive our Social Security statements by mail once a year. I understand the government stopped sending paper statements. How can we check for possible errors?
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The Social Security Administration did discontinue mailing paper statements in 2011, but reversed course in February and resumed mailing statements to workers age 60 and older who are not already receiving Social Security benefits. It will also mail a statement to workers at age 25.
Everyone else can check their Social Security statements online. Go to Social Securitys MyStatement and create a My Social Security account. For security, youll need to provide information about yourself that matches the information on file with Social Security, as well as some information that matches your Experian credit report. Its a good idea to check statements for errors once a year.
In addition to showing your earnings record, the statement shows your estimated Social Security payments at your full retirement age , at age 70 and at age 62. The statement also shows the amount of survivors benefits your child and spouse may receive.
For more information about Social Security, see our special report on Maximizing Social Security Benefits.
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Securing Your Rental Properties With Tenant Screening
Learning more about how to verify SSI income and other types of non-standard income is an important part of your success as a landlord.; Not verifying a potential tenants income could mean they will be unable to pay rent in just a few months, even though you expect a full-term lease to play out.
Without going through the proper tenant screening processes, you could be unknowingly setting yourself up for a costly, time-consuming situation.
One of the best ways to complete tenant screening is to use a qualified tenant screening service. Services like RentPrep give you clear information and do not include information that cannot be used when screening tenants, making the overall process much simpler for landlords.
Checking Your Credit Score
The most common way to catch unauthorized activity is by checking your credit information. If an account appears that you did not initiate, someone is using your Social Security number.
You can check your credit score using a third-party service like or check with your credit card company to see if they have such a feature.
If youre applying for a new line of credit and get turned down, this could mean that there are fraudulent accounts or activities that are affecting your credit score.
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Request A Replacement Social Security Card
If you had your Social Security card stolen or simply lost your SS card, then you will need to get a replacement card. In many states, you can replace a lost or stolen card online using your My Social Security account and uploading a copy of your driver’s license. If you are in a state that cannot use the online service, the card can be requested at your local Social Security office or through the mail using a paper application. In most cases, you will keep your same SSN. However, if the fraud has become bad enough, the SSA will issue you a new Social Security number when warranted.
What’s In Your Statement
Your statement contains your earnings records and how much income was subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. In addition, it tells you how many credits you’ve earned toward qualifying for retirement benefits and what your benefits, or the benefits for your family, would be if you became disabled.
Check Your Earnings Record
You will see your entire yearly earnings record when you view your online account. Its important that you check the earnings figures to make sure they are correct.
The Social Security Administration calculates your federal benefits based on your earnings during the 35 yearsopens PDF file ;when you earned the most.
In making its calculation, the SSA assumes that you will continue to earn your current salary until retirement when calculating your social security payment. If your earnings change, your benefit may too.
Your Benefits Could Be Affected So Be Sure You Check Your Record
The amount of your Social Security benefits is based on how much you make throughout the time you work. Specifically, you get benefits equal to a percentage of your average wages in the 35 years your earnings were highest, after wages are adjusted for inflation.;
Since benefits are based on your income, it’s important to make sure the Social Security Administration has an accurate record of what you’ve earned. To do this, you’ll need to check your Social Security earnings statement.;
If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment
Contact the authorizing agency directly to find out why they sent the payment. You may be able to find the authorizing agency in the memo line of the check. View this diagram of a sample Treasury check to help you locate the authorizing agency contact information on your own check. Scroll about half way down the page to see the diagram.;
If you’re unable to find which;agency authorized the payment, .;They;can help you determine which government agency you need to contact. To find which;RFC;you need to call, look for its city and state at the top;center of the check.;
Use the Treasury Check Verification System to verify that;the check is legitmate and issued by the;;government. ;
Social Security Numbers And Drivers Licenses
Many states require that you or your dependent have an SSN or have already applied for one before you apply for a drivers license. In these states, if you or your dependents are not eligible to work but want to apply for a drivers license, you;must first apply for an SSN at the local SSA office and receive a;Form SSA-L676, Refusal to Process SSN Application. To learn more, visit our;Driving in the States;page and talk with your DSO.
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How Do I Check My Social Security Benefits
Once your account is set up, youll be able to see an estimate of what your monthly Social Security benefit will be at:
- 62 years of age
- Your full retirement age
- 70 years of age
U.S. citizens dont have one standard full retirement age.; The Full Retirement Age for Baby Boomers born between 1943 and 1954 is 66. For individuals born from 1955 through 1959, FRA increases by two months every year. For everyone born in 1960 and later, FRA is 67.
Individuals can typically receive their full social security retirement benefit, called the Primary Insurance Amount, at their FRA. Individuals can claim their Social Security retirement or spousal benefit as early as age 62, however the monthly benefit may be permanently reduced by as much as 30% depending on your FRA and how early you file. Delaying your benefit beyond your FRA can increase your monthly benefit by as much as 8% per year until age 70, when the maximum Delayed Retirement Credit has accrued.
The File and Suspend strategy is no longer allowed, however people born on or before January 1, 1954, may be able to use the Restricted Application strategy to optimize their overall benefit by claiming one benefit and later switching to another social security retirement benefit.
What Is A Social Security Agreement
A social security agreement is an international agreement between Canada and another country that is designed to coordinate the pension programs of the two countries for people who have lived or worked in both countries.
Canada has signed social security agreements with a number of other countries that offer comparable pension programs.
The requirements under the social security agreements vary from agreement to agreement. It is important to check the details of the agreement that relates to you.
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What Is A Social Security Card
Your Social Security card is an important piece of identification. You’ll need one to get a job, collect Social Security, or receive other government benefits.
When you apply for a Social Security number , the Social Security Administration will assign you a nine-digit number. This is the same number that is printed on the Social Security card that SSA will issue you. If you change your name, you will need to get a corrected card.