Dont Send Your Ssn Via An Electronic Device
Never type your SSN into an email or instant message and send it. The majority of such messages can be intercepted and read. Also, dont leave a voicemail that includes your SSN. If you need to contact someone and give them your number, its best to do it in person. The second best way is to reach them on the phone and do it live.
Should You Lock Your Social Security Number
If you have reason to think you might be targeted for identity theft, one option to protect yourself is to lock your Social Security number so no one can use it.
Whether or not you should take that step, also known as feezing your SSN, depends on several factors.;
This quick guide will walk you through the process and help you decide whether locking your Social Security number is the right choice for your situation.
How To Lock Your Credit Report At Transunion
TransUnions credit lock program is called TrueIdentity, and its also free. Like with Equifax, you can lock and unlock your credit quickly on a smartphone or computer. The program also gives you access to your TransUnion® credit report, free monitoring alerts and up to $25,000 in identity theft insurance. TransUnion also has a premium product, called Credit Lock Plus, that allows you to lock your credit reports with both TransUnion and Equifax but it costs $19.95 a month. You can sign up for the free TrueIdentity program on;TransUnions website.
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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.
How To Lock Your Credit
Locking your credit is a procedure that can help prevent identity theft and credit fraud by blocking access to your credit report. A credit lock, also known as a security lock, has the same result as a credit freeze, but it’s easier and quicker to lock and unlock your credit than to freeze and un-freeze it.
Locking your credit prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report or using it to get a credit score. Checking your credit is typically one of the first steps in processing a loan or credit application, so blocking access to your credit file can stop fraudsters and thieves from opening new accounts or borrowing money in your namea common consequence of identity theft.
Note that you must block access to your credit reports at all three national credit bureaus . Locking your credit at one bureau does not automatically lock it at the others.
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Key Causes And Protection Steps Against Social Security Number Theft: Internet Scambusters #464
Social Security number theft is big business, mostly because people don’t safeguard their wallets and purses.
But there are other ways crooks get their hands on this vital piece of information, including dumpster diving, as we reveal in this week’s issue.
We also explain the steps you can take to avoid your Social Security Number from falling into the wrong hands.
And now for the main feature…
How To Freeze A Social Security Number
Safeguarding your Social Security number is one of the best identity protection steps that you can take. Unfortunately, even the most careful individuals fall victim to identity thieves. According to the team at the Insurance Information Institute, there were nearly 5 million cases of identity theft in 2020. Discovering that your Social Security number may be exposed is overwhelming, but there are a few steps you must take immediately to freeze your SSN and protect yourself.
When To Provide Your Ssn
Not everyone who requests your SSN actually needs it. Generally speaking, if an entity reports information about you to the Internal Revenue Service , you probably have to supply your SSN. This includes your employer, banks/lenders, the U.S. Treasury for savings bonds, and state unemployment insurance and workers compensation offices.
Although other institutions and businesses have the right to ask for your number, they often dont need it, and you arent legally required to provide it.
As of Jan. 1, 2020, Medicare no longer uses Social Security numbers for identification. Instead, Medicare recipients receive a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier a unique series of numbers and letters that they should also try to protect from identity thieves.
How To Search For People Using Ssn
If youre trying to search for someone by SSN, read this first as it will help you either perform an SSN Search free, enable you to check SSN validity, perform an SSN Search by number or just a straight forward social security number search by name using a social security records search
Before we dive in to what running an SSN background search, using SSN verify online or the ins and outs of a social security office search, lets look at what an SSN actually is, and what its used for:
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Trust Verify The Recipient
Some people and organizations have a valid reason to receive such documents, including a new employer, your accountant, a bank, a landlord or a school. Even then, though, proceed with caution. Resist surrendering the information to practically everyone else, no matter how innocent their request seems.
Be extremely wary of providing your Social Security number to someone who has called you. You should verify the identity of the person you are speaking with if you didn’t reach out directly.
Just don’t do so by calling back a provided phone number or clicking on a text link. Moreover, unless the answer is obvious the accountant you’ve been using for years to prepare your tax returns ask a would-be recipient why they want the information in the first place and how they intend to secure it. Also ask what will happen if you decline to give out the information.
“Some businesses continue to use Social Security numbers as a means of authenticating customers or simply as a practice they just never let go of, says Kathy Stokes, AARP’s director of fraud prevention programs who also is head of the AARP Fraud Watch Network. Consider pushing back and asking if there’s an alternative.”
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.
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When Should I Use A Credit Freeze
It’s a good idea to consider a credit freeze in a few situations, including these.
- Youve been the victim of a data breach. If your personally identifiable information has been exposed, cybercriminals could try to open new accounts in your name. A credit freeze can provide an extra layer of protection. Lenders wont be able to access your credit file, making it unlikely that theyll grant credit to anyone using your Social Security number.
- You believe youve been the victim of identity theft. You may start receiving bills for accounts you dont recognize. Or you may receive calls from collection agencies seeking payment on accounts you never opened. These are likely signals that you might be the victim of identity theft. A credit freeze could help prevent criminals from opening more accounts using your personal information.
- You want to protect against identity theft for a child. A provision of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act authorizes parents or guardians of children under 16 to set up a credit report for their child and then freeze it at no cost. This can help you protect against child identity theft.
Can You Put A Freeze On Your Social Security Number
If youve had a brush with identity theft recently, then freezing your Social Security number may be the best option you have to protect your finances. Freezing a Social Security number prevents anyone from accessing all three of your credit reports without your express permission.;
When creditors arent able to access your credit reports, someone else wont be able to open a new line of credit or get a loan using your Social Security number. People generally freeze a Social Security number in case of identity theft; however, the service is available to anyone.;
To freeze your Social Security number, follow the steps below:
Step 1: File a police report if you are a victim of identity theft, it is best to have a copy of the police report to qualify for a security freeze free of charge.;
Step 2: Go online the fastest way to freeze a Social Security number is to go straight to the websites of all three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.;
Step 3: Write a letter send a written request for a security freeze to all the credit bureaus. Be sure to include your full legal name, Social Security number, date of birth, current address, your address from the last two years as well as the reason you are requesting a freeze on your account.;
Step 4: Call the credit bureaus you can also call the three credit bureaus to request a freeze. Prepare all the necessary information, as they will ask you for the same details described in Step 3.;
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How To Match A Social Security Number With A Name
Social security numbers can be matched with a name by using an FCRA approved background check or approved credit check.;;Social security numbers are issued by the Social Security Administration and have become the main identifier for US taxation and other official purposes.; SSNs are used as a way of verifying identity for things like background checks, tenancy, bank loans, and credit purposes.; There are only select authorized purposes for requesting this information and they almost always require;the approval of the person being researched.
Contact One Of The Three Major Credit
To speak to Equifax, call its customer care number at 1-888-766-0008 or visit this web page to place a fraud alert. To start an Equifax credit freeze online, you’ll have to create an Equifax account, but you can do so without creating an account by calling 1-800-349-9960.
To contact Experian, call 1-888-397-3742 or go here for a fraud alert or here for a credit freeze. For TransUnion, the phone number is 1-800-680-7289; the fraud-alert link is here and the credit-freeze link is here.;
A credit freeze can be inconvenient, but it’s the better option. With a freeze, no potential lender can access your credit file without your approval. That can be a bother if you plan to move, open a new bank account, buy a car or switch phone carriers, but you can easily “unfreeze” your credit and then freeze it again.
Thanks to a 2018 law, credit freezes are now free to implement, but you must contact each of the Big Three credit-reporting agencies separately to set them up.;
Fraud alerts are easier to place the agency you place one with will contact the other two but they aren’t as useful. A fraud alert just requests that anyone pulling your credit file contact you first, but they don’t actually have to.
You can renew a fraud alert every year . Contact the Social Security Administration only to get a replacement card or replacement number .
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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.
Identity Theft Can Victimize The Dead
Identity thieves can strike even after death. An identity thief’s use of a deceased person’s Social Security number may create problems for family members. This type of identity theft also victimizes merchants, banks, and other businesses that provide goods and services to the thief.
What happens to your Social Security number after you die? The Social Security Administration maintains a national file of reported deaths for the purpose of paying appropriate benefits. The file contains the following information: Social Security number, name, date of birth, date of death, state of last known residence, and zip code of last lump sum payment.
The SSA generally receives reports of death from a family member or a funeral home. Sometimes delays in reporting can provide time for identity thieves to collect enough personal information to open credit accounts or take other fraudulent actions using the deceased’s information. To prevent this from happening, a surviving spouse or other authorized individual, such as an executor, can notify the credit bureaus. This will ensure that the deceased’s files are flagged with a “deceased” notation.
Signs of possible identity theft include calls from a creditor or collection agency on an account opened or used in the deceased’s name after death. If you discover such signs, contact the affected creditor or collection agency in writing, explaining that the account was opened or used fraudulently. See sample letter attached.
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When Should I Freeze My Credit
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you have more than one option to consider when it comes to protecting your credit. In many cases, a security alert may be sufficient.
When you place a security alert, also known as a fraud alert, you can add a telephone number so lenders can call you when they receive an application and verify that it’s you who is applying. You also can request additional free credit reports when you add an initial security alert or victim statement. Reviewing your report can help you determine whether or not you are a victim and help you take appropriate action.
In more extreme cases in which you’re experiencing ongoing fraud attempts, you may feel a security freeze is necessary.
It’s worth considering taking action to protect your credit if:
- Unexplained bills or collection notices are mailed to your address, in your name or under another’s name.
- New inquiries or credit accounts appear on your credit report, indicating activity with lenders or other companies you don’t recognize.
- Your bank or credit union notifies you about fraudulent activity on an account.
- You receive notification that you are or could be the victim of a data breach.
Protect Your Social Security Number From Theft
Next, we summarize the most important things you can do to try to prevent your Social Security number from being stolen:
* First and foremost, don’t carry your card around with you. Memorize the number.
And don’t carry other cards with the number unless you know you’re going to need them.
The PRC even suggests photocopying these must-carry cards, leaving the original at home and deleting all but the last three digits on the copy that you carry with you.
However, we’re not able to say whether all medical service providers would accept this.
* Whether you have these identifying cards with you or not, keep your wallet securely with you or under lock and key at all times.
* Don’t store your Social Security number in an unencrypted file on your computer.
If you don’t know how to password protect or encrypt files on your computer, either find out or don’t store those details.
Remember, this doesn’t refer just to the number itself but to any documents — like copies of tax returns, pay slips and financing applications — that contain them.
* Shred all documents that contain your Social Security number and other confidential information before disposing of them. Tearing them in half is not enough!
We covered the subject of shredding earlier, in a special issue: Shredding: A Key Weapon in Your Document Security and Identity Theft Prevention Strategies
* Likewise, beware of providing the number to anyone else who asks for it online, by email or by mail.
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