Thursday, June 16, 2022

How To Freeze My Social Security

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1 Simple Way To Protect Your Social Security Number

Unless youre concerned that your identity is imminently at risk for theft, locking your number through your Social Security online account might not be necessary.

Here are 4 essential practices to protect your Social Security number and keep it secure:

  • Shred any paperwork that includes your number before throwing it away
  • Make sure your computers anti-virus software is up to date
  • Dont invite trouble by using open Wi-Fi networks
  • Be very suspicious of anyone who asks for your SSN, whether over the phone or by email
  • You might be asked to provide your Social Security account when you apply for certain services or when you seek medical care. You can decline to give your number, but the provider can then choose to deny you service.

    Before you provide your Social Security number, ask a few questions to help you decide whether that makes sense:

    • Why do they need your number?
    • How will it be stored?
    • Will it be shared with other companies?

    How To Protect Your Identity Beyond A Credit Freeze

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    Dear Liz: I volunteer for an organization that does background checks every two years. A recent check found my name and Social Security number was used in Texas from 2019 to 2021. I have never been to Texas. What can I do to find out how this happened, and how to protect my Social Security number? I have already frozen my account with the three main credit bureaus.

    Answer: You may never know exactly how this happened, but you can make an educated guess.

    Most Americans Social Security numbers have been exposed in one database breach or another, including the massive Equifax breach in 2017 that exposed the personal information of nearly 150 million people. As a result, Social Security numbers are sold by criminals on the dark web for just a few dollars.

    Because Social Security numbers have become all-purpose identifiers something they were never intended to be, by the way criminals can use a purloined number to get jobs, steal your tax refunds, receive medical care and apply for credit, among other misuses. They also could pretend to be you if theyre ever arrested, something known as criminal identity theft.

    Freezing your credit reports will help prevent someone from opening new credit accounts. Credit freezes typically wont help with the many other types of identity theft, however.

    You also can report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at IdentityTheft.gov, a site that will create a recovery plan to help you navigate the next steps.

    How To Protect Your Child From Identity Theft

    Freezing your childs credit will keep a criminal from opening credit in your childs name, but it doesn’t protect your child from identity theft entirely.

    You can adopt habits to guard against child identity theft and teach your child to do the same.

    • Protect Social Security numbers by leaving forms requesting them blank until and unless you are told why they are necessary and how they will be protected.

    • Pay attention to mail. While credit preapproval offers in your childs name don’t always indicate identity theft, they are worth investigating. Correspondence from a collection agency addressed to your child is a huge red flag.

    • Keep your childs documents locked away. Birth certificates and Social Security cards shouldn’t be in your purse, wallet or car. Safeguard anything with that information in your own home. That means keeping paperwork with Social Security numbers inaccessible, possibly in a home safe or locked file cabinet, inaccessible to service people and visitors.

    • Monitor health insurance claim information. A claim that doesn’t make sense to you can indicate that your childs personal information has been used to access health insurance benefits.

    Guarding personal data isnt the ultimate solution, but its what we can do now.

    A Social Security number should not be used as a verifier, says Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. We need a better way to verify identity. Ultimately, thats the solution.

    Recommended Reading: My Social Security Retirement Amount

    How Long Does The Freeze Last

    The freeze of a child’s credit records remains in place until itis removed by the parent or guardian or by the child when he or she is 16 yearsold or older. Removing a freeze requires submitting a written request to thecredit bureaus, along with documentation similar to what is required forplacing the freeze. Credit bureaus may charge up to $10 for removing a securityfreeze. The credit bureaus must remove a freeze within 30 days after receivinga request for removal that provides the required information and fee, ifapplicable.

    Access To Medical Care

    Can you put a freeze on your Social Security number?

    One thing you need to watch out for if someone steals your social security number is the possibility of them using it to gain access to medical care with your details. They may be able to undergo medical treatment using your identity, which will ultimately affect your personal medical records.

    False information on your health records could lead to disastrousconsequences. For example, if you needed a blood transfusion and the wrong blood type was given, it could be life-threatening. It can also impact your ability to access your medical insurance when you need it.

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    Sample Letter For Disputing Billing Errors

    Send the letter Certified with a Return Receipt Requested

    Attention: Disputes and Billing Inquiries

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    I am writing to dispute a billing error in the amount of on my account. The amount is inaccurate because . I am requesting that the error be corrected, that any finance and other charges related to the disputed amount be credited as well, and that I receive an accurate statement.

    Enclosed are copies of supporting my position. Please investigate this matter and correct the billing error as soon as possible.

    Sincerely,

    What Can You Do With Someones Social Security Number

    You can use your Social Security number to access victims tax returns and government benefits, such as Social Security benefits, disability checks, or unemployment benefits. A victim may not be aware of a stolen tax refund until the state tax authorities or the IRS inform them that their own tax return is a duplicate.

    Also Check: When Can You Take Social Security Benefits

    Visiting Your Local Social Security Office

    Travelling to your local SSA office in person may seem like the slowest method of submitting your application, but the safety, certainty, and peace of mind that it provides often makes it the best method. Not only do you avoid the risk of identity theft by not transmitting any sensitive documentation, but you get to keep all of your documents rather than having to mail them in. And when you apply in person, you can be sure that your application and documents were properly received.

    Read Also: How To Set Up Appointment With Social Security

    Wait For Confirmation Then Store It Securely

    Put a Security Freeze On Your Credit To Keep It Secure

    You will receive confirmation in the mail that a freeze has been placed, and the correspondence will include your childs PIN. That number is necessary for unfreezing your childs credit, so keep that in a safe place . You might also want to store it electronically by using a secure password manager service, for example.

    The freeze will remain in place until your child unfreezes it later to apply for a credit card, car loan, student loans or other credit.

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    What You Need For Request A Credit Report Security Freeze

    • Your full name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth
    • Addresses where you lived over the previous five years
    • Proof of current address such as a utility or phone bill
    • A photocopy of a government issued identification card
    • If you are an identity theft victim, include a copy of the police report, investigative report, or complaint

    Do You Have A Security Freeze Or Fraud Alert On Your Credit Report

    If you have a security freeze, fraud alert, or both on your credit report, you can still open a mySocial Security account by temporarily lifting it.

  • Contact our Identity Services Provider and request that they temporarily lift your security freeze or fraud alert.
  • Create a mySocial Security account online after lifting the security freeze or fraud alert.
  • Reinstate the security freeze or fraud alert with the Identity Services Provider if needed. When you request a temporary lift of your credit freeze or fraud alert, the Identity Services Provider may automatically reinstate it after your temporary lift expires.
  • If you dont want to temporarily lift your security freeze or fraud alert, you can visit your local Social Security office to open an account in person. For more information on security freezes and fraud alerts, read the Federal Trade Commissions .

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    Giving Your Child A Fraud

    Children make attractive targets for identity thieves. A childs Social Security number is ap-pealing because it is usually “clean” and does not show up in fraud databases. The crime is often not discovered until the child comes of age, giving thieves years of unobserved use of the stolen identities and years to mar the credit histories of unsuspecting children.

    For child victims, the consequences of identity theft are devastating. When victims become young adults and seek independent lives, banks, landlords, hiring managers, and utility companies discover victims negative credit histories and say “no deal,” a roadblock to financial autonomy.

    You can help shield your childs credit history with a security freeze. Most businesses will not open credit accounts without first checking a consumers credit history. When a security freeze is in place, someone who applies to get credit using your childs name and Social Security number will be rejected. Access to your childs credit records will stay “frozen” until you say so, or until your child removes the freeze after reaching the age of 16.

    Who Can Access Frozen Credit Reports

    Tips: How to freeze your child

    A credit freeze makes your credit reports inaccessible to most people, with a few exceptions:

    • You can access your own records, including getting your free annual credit reports. You can also check your free credit report summary and score from NerdWallet while your credit reports are frozen.

    • Your current creditors still have access, as do debt collectors.

    • In certain circumstances, government or child support agencies can see them.

    • You can still give permission to an employer or potential employer to check your credit .

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    Please Answer A Few Questions To Help Us Determine Your Eligibility

    People who are unable to work due to disability invariably suffer gaps in their employment history, or times when they made less money due to their medical condition. For disability applicants who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance , this can reduce your disability or retirement benefits or even make you ineligible for benefits.

    To decrease the impact of these low earnings years, the Social Security Administration created the “disability freeze.” Also called a period of disability, the disability freeze “freezes” an individual’s insured status and, in turn, preserves the individual’s eligibility for future retirement and disability benefits.

    How Do I Freeze My Child’s Credit

    You can request a free credit freeze for your child if they’re under the age of 16. To place a freeze on your child’s credit, you will need to contact each credit bureau, fill out the necessary documentation, and provide copies of your ID, your birth certificate and your child’s, Social Security cards for you and your child, and a utility bill to verify your address.

    Also Check: What Will My Social Security Benefits Be At Age 70

    How To Block Your Social Security Number

    Blocking access to a Social Security number is a simple but essential step in minimizing financial damage for victims of identity theft. It also can help shield information for those trying to maximize their privacy. After a SSN has been blocked successfully, protection can be optimized by freezing access to all credit reports.

    Set Up Online Access For All Your Important Accounts

    Equifax Security Freeze Request Sample Letter (2022 UPDATED)

    Your next move: Setting up online access for all your sensitive accounts financial institutions, utilities and communications companies so that someone posing as you doesnt do it first. Without an existing online account, its not very difficult for a hacker to call up a company and ask to set up online account access. Armed with your name, address, date of birth and Social Security number, theyll likely be able to do it, too, and that opens the door to all sorts of fraud. Once you do set up these accounts it can usually be done on the company websites or via phone update your account settings so that youll receive an email about any future changes to your password, mailing address, etc.

    Even if you think you might not get a tax refund this year, someone posing as you can input fake salary and other financial information to get a refund.

    Also Check: Will I Get Social Security Benefits

    How To Request Request A Credit Report Security Freeze

    To place a security freeze, you must send a written request by mail to all three credit reporting agencies.

    The letter must contain the following information:

    • Your full name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth
    • Addresses where you lived over the previous five years
    • Proof of current address such as a utility or phone bill
    • A photocopy of a government issued identification card
    • If you are an identity theft victim, include a copy of the police report, investigative report, or complaint

    Equifax Security Freeze

    Fill out the online form here:

    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.

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    Block Social Security Number

    Electronic and phone access to SSN information can be blocked by contacting the Social Security Administration directly. They will ask you to verify your identification and confirm your intention to block access to Social Security information.

    Blocking your number will prevent access by anyone, including you. If conditions change or you need access to your information, the block can be lifted either permanently or temporarily by contacting the Social Security Administration.

    For questions and assistance with blocking your SSN, you also can call the Social Security Administration toll-free at 1-877-772-1213, or visit a Social Security office.

    Information You Need To Freeze Your Credit At All 3 Bureaus

    Secret code to Social Security numbers can be cracked, say researchers ...

    Its a good idea to gather all the documents you will need before initiating a credit freeze. While all three credit bureaus have slightly different requirements, here is the information you will generally need to provide:

    • Social Security number.

    • Date of birth.

    • Address.

    Depending on how you initiate the credit freeze online, by phone, or by mail you might also need:

    • Copy of your passport, drivers license or military ID.

    • Copy of tax documents, bank statements or utility bills.

    • Proof of address, like a utility bill.

    Note: If you freeze your credit by phone, be prepared to answer some authentication questions, too.

    Once a credit freeze is in place, it secures your credit file until you lift the freeze. You can unfreeze credit temporarily when you want to apply for new credit.

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    More Info For Request A Credit Report Security Freeze

    It is free to place, lift or remove a security freeze.

    How long does it take for a security freeze to go into effect?

    After three business days from receiving your letter, the credit reporting agencies will place a freeze providing credit reports to potential creditors.

    After five business days from receiving your letter to place a freeze on your account, the credit reporting agencies will send you a confirmation letter containing a unique PIN or password that can be used to authorize the removal or lifting of a security freeze.

    Who can see my credit file if it is frozen?

    When you have a security freeze on your credit file, certain entities still have access to it. Your report can still be released to your existing creditors or to collection agencies acting on their behalf, as well as new creditors who may make offers of credit. Government agencies may also access your credit file in response to court or administrative orders, a subpoena, or a search warrant.

    To lift the security freeze to allow a specific entity or individual access to your credit report:

    • The credit bureaus have 3 business days after receiving your request to lift the security freeze for identified entities or individuals

    To remove the security freeze:

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