How To Report Fraud
Do you suspect someone of committing fraud, waste, or abuse against Social Security? You can contact the OIGs fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or submit a report online at .
If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from our agency, hang up, and then report details of the call to the OIG at .
Our investigations are most successful when you provide as much information as possible about the alleged suspect and/or victim involved. The more you can tell us, the better chance we have of determining whether a crime has been committed. As you fill out a fraud allegation, please include the following about the alleged suspect and/or victim:
Its helpful to know facts about the alleged fraud, such as:
- Description of the fraud.
- Location where the fraud took place.
- When the fraud took place.
- How the fraud was committed.
- Why the person committed the fraud .
- Who else has knowledge of the potential violation?
OIG will carefully review your allegation and take appropriate action. However, they cannot provide information regarding the actions taken on any reported allegation. Federal regulations prohibit the disclosure of information contained in law enforcement records, even to the individual making the allegation.
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.
Don’t Keep Personal Information In Your Wallet Or On Your Phone And Cover The Keypad When You Enter Your Atm Pin
Be smart about what you carry around with you. Slaughter’s suggestion: “Minimize the personal information you carry in your wallet or keep on your phone. Use a pass code, for example, to make certain that if you lose your phone, you dont also lose the personal information that youve stored on it.”
And it may seem obvious, but when you enter your debit card PIN at the register or at the ATM, be sure to shield the keypad.
Bravo / Via giphy.com
Believe it or not, what you share on social media could help a thief steal your identity. As Slaughter explained, “Sometimes people share personal or sensitive information on their favorite platforms. Identity thieves are always watching and may use information they learn.”
For example, if you’re obsessed with your dog, Waffles, who is 16, the thief may assume that your bank password is some variation of “Waffles16.”
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Where Do I Report Fake Social Security Calls
You should report fake Social Security calls to the Office of the Inspector General . You can use the Scam Reporting Form on their website to report these calls. Providing as much detail as possible will help the SSA investigate these calls and attempt to find the parties responsible for the calls. You can also notify the FTC of these calls, although they encourage you to make your report to the OIG. You can also report Social Security fraud to the OIG Social Security fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271.
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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What Is Tax Identity Theft
Tax identity theft occurs when someone files a tax return using your Social Security Number . In some cases, thieves do this in order to claim a fraudulent tax refund. In others, they may have used your SSN to obtain employment. When this occurs, their employer will report all income to the IRS using that SSN. When you don’t report that same income on your own return, the IRS will flag it as suspicious and require you to pay taxes on that additional income. It may even lead to a tax audit.
Victims of tax identity theft face serious financial ramifications. Not only are they unable to file their own returns , but other financial vulnerabilities might be at work. Unauthorized loans, credit cards, and other accounts may have been opened using the victim’s identity.
Victims are typically encouraged to freeze their credit when tax-related identity theft occurs. They may also need to work with creditors and credit reporting agencies to clear their name of any fraudulent activity.
Someone May Be Using Your Ssn
People can use your Social Security Number to access bank accounts, open new accounts, and more. If this is happening it may go undetected.
A lot of times there are indications that something is amiss. These are the top five signs your information has been compromised.
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How To Change Your Social Security Number
You must make an appointment with a Social Security office to request a new Social Security number and bring along all necessary paperwork required.
Along with the necessary documents to prove why you are requesting a change of number, you will need to fill out an application for a new card and provide a written statement for why you require a new Social Security number. You will also need to provide original documents of identity, and if needed, evidence of legal name change, as well as proof of age and US citizenship or work-authorized immigration status.
How Does Social Security Identity Theft Happen
There are several ways an SSN can end up with a thief. Some involve physical theft, and others can take the digital route. To what extent are SSNs at risk? Notably, there was the Equifax breach of 2017, which exposed some 147 million SSNs. Yet just because an SSN has been potentially exposed does not mean that an identity crime has been committed with it.
So, lets start with the basics: how do SSNs get stolen or exposed?
Thats quite the list. Broadly speaking, the examples above give good reasons for keeping your SSN as private and secure as possible. With that, its helpful to know that there are only a handful of situations where your SSN is required for legitimate purposes, which can help you can make decisions about how and when to give it out. The list of required cases is relatively short, such as:
- When applying for credit or a loan.
- Transactions that require IRS notification, like working with investment firms, real estate purchases, auto purchases, etc.
- Registering with a business as a full-time or contract employee .
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How To Report Identity Theft On Twitter
Twitter policy allows for parody, commentary, or fan accounts, but will remove accounts it agrees portray another person in a confusing or deceptive manner. To report an account:
Keep In Mind That Identity Theft Can Happen To Anyone And It Doesn’t Always Happen Because Of A Misstep You Made
NBC / Via giphy.com
Slaughter told me via email, “The more people use their personal information, the more chances it could be their information is compromised by no fault of their own.”
So while you may be careful about who you share information with and how, she explained, “A person can use a secure app or website to make a purchase and still later find that the company had a data breach exposing their personal/sensitive information.”
There’s also the sad reality that sometimes close friends and family members can use your information to open new lines of credit or get out of trouble with the police .
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Ways To Avoid A Credit Card Leak During The Holidays
Aside from spending quality time with family and friends, shopping increasingly online is the other major activity during the holiday season. According to the National Retail Federation , the average American spends almost $1,000 on holiday shopping, from gifts to festive items and other household purchases.
Furthermore, in their fourth annual Holiday Shopping ID Theft survey, Generali Global Assistance published the following research.
- 2 in 3 Americans are concerned about their personal information being compromised in a data breach while shopping this holiday season.
- 78% of customers stated that they would be concerned about doing business with a retailer that had previously experienced a data breach.
- 64% of Americans indicated they would feel more secure doing business with a retailer if they offered customers an identity protection service.
- 61% of shoppers indicated that data breaches of online merchants or credit card companies is the biggest threat to their identity security.
- 2 in 5 Americans believed that identity theft is the greatest personal threat this year.
From the research its clear that consumers are concerned about the security of their financial identity information in the face of constant data leaks and breaches. That being the case, we thought wed put together some tips on avoiding becoming the victim in a credit card data leak.
If Your Ssn Is Stolen
Taking steps to protect your SSN and identity can save you tremendous difficulty down the line. But if your SSN is comprised, take immediate action.
- Visit the Federal Trade Commissions IdentityTheft.gov to report the theft and create an action plan.
- File a police report with your local police.
- Contact one of the national credit reporting companies to create a fraud alert, which makes it difficult for a thief to open any new accounts with your information.
- Report the fraud to the IRS, your banking and financial institutions and any companies where the thief has opened accounts using your information.
- Replace a stolen or lost Social Security card. Contact the Social Security Administration to request a Social Security card replacement. It may require you to visit a local SSA office, or use a third party Social Security Card Replacement Assistant
Theres a lot to do. When you use an identity protection service, youll find out about theft right away so you can minimize the damage and get back to your life.
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Get The Best Identity Theft Protection Today
If you think youve been victimized after experiencing a lost or stolen Social Security card, or your Social Security number has been exposed by a data breach, we can help you take the steps to protect what matters most. IdentityForce can help monitor your identity and credit while providing you with the latest news and information in identity theft protection. Our Smart SSN Tracker alerts you if an unfamiliar name, alias, or address is associated with your SSN, and our experts will be there to assist you every step of the way. IdentityForces Identity Vault provides online encrypted storage for your important personally identifiable information including SSNs, credit cards, financial account information, and birth dates, along with other important documents. It also provides access to online and mobile digital organization and storage of digital copies of important legal and personal documents, medical records, and other items.
Weve built best-in-class, innovative capabilities that continue to be named the best identity theft protection service throughout our industry. Additionally, our IdentityForce members receive full, white-glove restoration services to reduce the damaging effects of all types of fraud, theft, misuse, and unintended exposure of personal and financial data.
Let us show you how IdentityForce can help you manage through a compromised Social Security number incident. .
**Originally published July 11, 2017. Updated April 14, 2021.**
How Do I Replace My Lost Or Stolen Social Security Card
You can replace your Social Security card online. According to the Social Security Administration, if youre only requesting a replacement card, and no other changes, you can use our free online services from anywhere. All you need to do is log in to or create your personal my Social Security account.
Once you receive your replacement card, dont put it in your purse or wallet. Keep it stored securely in a safety deposit box, or at home.
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Your Options For Financial Recovery
Many victims of tax identity theft experience cash flow issues or must deal with additional debt as a result of the experience. They also may be unable to take out traditional loans or credit accounts due to the impact the theft has had on their credit score and profile.
When this occurs, victims have five options:
There’s always the option to wait it out, too. If the damage was minimal or you weren’t relying on your refund for financial stability, you may be able to await the IRS’ resolution of your case.
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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Religious Or Cultural Objections To Certain Numbers Or Digits
Although the SSA expanded the numbers available to be used when the agency randomized the numbering system in 2011, there are still certain numbers that are not issued. When someone is assigned a Social Security number that number may be objectionable to that person based on their culture or religion. The agency makes an exception for these people to have their number changed. But the SSA requires written documentation in support of the objection from a religious group with which the number holder has an established relationship.
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Signs Of Identity Theft
Your personal information can be stolen without your knowledge.
Many people find out theyve been the victim of identity theft when theyre denied a loan, job or rent unexpectedly because of a credit check. This is why its very important to check your credit report once a year for errors or strange activities.
Others signs of identity theft include:
- bills and statements don’t arrive when they are supposed to they may have been stolen from your mailbox or someone may have changed the mailing address for your accounts
- you receive calls from collection agencies or creditors for an account you don’t have
- you receive notification from your bank, credit card or online business about a new account in your name, or added charges
- financial account statements show withdrawals or transfers you didn’t make
- a creditor calls to say you’ve been approved or denied credit that you haven’t applied for
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Getting A New Social Security Number Is Probably Not A Good Idea
Victims of identity theft sometimes want to change their Social Security number. The Social Security Administration very rarely allows this. In fact, there are drawbacks to changing your number. It could result in losing your credit history, your academic records, and your professional degrees. The absence of any credit history under the new SSN would make it difficult for you to get credit, rent an apartment, or open a bank account.
Watch Out For Social Media Scams
The Better Business Bureau has warned about online scams at this time of year. Included in the top ten are: misleading adsonsocialmedia, fake gift exchanges, fake shipping notifications, and fake accountalerts.Meanwhile, the Identity Theft Resource Center has reported on and accounts being taken over by scammers most often in the aftermath of data leaks and breaches. Bear in mind that, while a valid social security number goes for just $2 on the dark web, hacked Instagram andaccounts go for a whopping $45 and $65 respectively.
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Tip : Create Strong Passwords
Strong passwords that use a unique combination of numbers, letters, and symbols can help prevent identity thieves from accessing your personal information in online accounts. Heres one password you should never use: your Social Security number. And dont use your SSNs last four digits as a PIN.
Finally, dont use the same passwords repeatedly. Even if its a strong password, and its one that you can easily remember, all a hacker has to do is crack that password once. The thief will then be able to access all your important accounts that are protected by that password, even ones that contain your Social Security number.