Tuesday, April 26, 2022

How To Protect My Social Security Number For Free

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Your Social Insurance Number Is Confidential

Protecting your Social Security number

If your SIN falls into the wrong hands, it could be used to obtain personal information and invade your privacy. When the SIN is not linked to you as its rightful owner, another person could receive your government benefits, tax refunds or bank credits. Your personal information could also be revealed to unauthorized people, which could lead to identity theft and other types of fraud.

If someone uses your SIN to work illegally or to obtain credit, you may suffer hardship. You could be requested to pay additional taxes for income you did not receive or you could have difficulty obtaining credit because someone may have ruined your credit rating.

There are a number of things you can do to protect your SIN:

  • provide your SIN only when you know that it is legally required
  • store any document containing your SIN and personal information in a safe placedo not keep it with you
  • contact Service Canada if you change your name, if your temporary citizenship status changes to a permanent resident status or if information on your SIN record is incorrect or incomplete
  • take immediate measures to protect your SIN when you suspect someone else is using your SIN fraudulently

What Are Other Tips I Can Use For Detecting Phishing Emails

  • Verify the sender. Exercise caution when receiving email from a sender you dont know or havent heard from in a long time. Hover over the From email address to ensure it matches the displayed email or name of the sender.
  • Look for poor choices in wording, phrasing, or spelling.
  • If an email includes a business name, telephone number, or website link, verify the legitimacy of these items by searching for the official number or website in a search engine.
  • Do not respond to emails requesting personal information. Reputable businesses and public agencies will not ask you for personal information in an email.

Get A Free Security Freeze

  • Stop identity thieves from getting new credit in your name by placing a security freeze on your credit.
  • All North Carolina consumers can now get free security freezes online. Identity theft victims and seniors can also get free security freezes by mail or phone.
  • You can now get a special Protected Consumer security freeze to help protect a child or an incapacitated adult against identity theft.

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What To Do If Your Social Security Number Was Found On The Dark Web

Many members of the UC Berkeley community have recently received alerts from Experian that their Social Security numbers were found on the dark web, a part of the web that does not show up in online searches.

This occurred following news from the University of California about a cyberattack impacting the UC and hundreds of other organizations.

Individuals who have not yet signed up for the free credit and identity monitoring, and consequently who may not be aware of potential exposure of their information, shouldnow, said Jenn Stringer, Berkeleys associate vice chancellor for IT and chief information officer. For help with enrolling, call 617-1923 and reference engagement number DB26512.

Stringer acknowledged that receiving a message from a credit monitoring service about your Social Security number being found on the dark web can be unsettling. She received one herself and advises everyone to continue to check their notifications and follow the instructions .

Anthony D. Joseph, a Berkeley engineering professor and an expert in cybersecurity, noted the importance of the Experian alerts. The alerts provide you with important and specific information that you should then act on to help protect your credit and identity, he said. The sooner you are notified, and take action, the better.

Both Stringer and Joseph strongly recommend that individuals with their Social Security numbers found on the dark web do the following:

How To Freeze Your Credit For Free

How to Protect Your Social Security Number

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft or suspect your personal information is otherwise being abused by criminals, you can block all access to your credit reports by requesting security freezes at all three national credit bureaus. Doing so can prevent unauthorized credit checks, but can also prevent processing of your own legitimate credit applications.

Before you proceed with a credit freeze, however, you should know that a better solution for many victims of identity theft may be to enact what’s called a fraud alertmore on that later.

Here’s what you know about how to freeze your credit, and how to decide whether or not you should.

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How To Report Identity Theft To Social Security In Three Steps

Lets say you spot something unusual on your credit report or get a notification that someone has filed a tax return on your behalf without your knowledge. These are possible signs that your identity, if not your SSN, is in jeopardy, which means its time to act right away using the steps below:

1. Report the theft to local and federal authorities.

File a police report and a Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Report. This will help in case someone uses your Social Security number to commit fraud, since it will provide a legal record of the theft. The FTC can also assist by guiding you through the identity theft recovery process as well. Their site really is an excellent resource.

2. Contact the businesses involved.

Get in touch with the fraud department at each of the businesses where you suspect theft has taken place, let them know of your situation, and follow the steps they provide. With your police and FTC reports, you will already have a couple of vital pieces of information that can help you clear your name.

3. Reach the Social Security Administration and the IRS.

How Service Canada Protects Your Sin

Service Canada stores personal information requested to apply for a SIN in the Social Insurance Register. This information includes your name, date of birth, place of birth and your parents’ names. Dates of death are also recorded in the Register.

Service Canada protects your SIN in the following ways:

  • we store your personal information carefully on our premises and in computer systems that are only accessible to authorized employees who have a “need to know”
  • we provide guidance about how to protect your SIN and your personal information

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What Is Child Identity Theft

Child identity theft happens when someone takes a childs sensitive personal information and uses it to get services or benefits, or to commit fraud. They might use your childs Social Security number, name and address, or date of birth. They could use the stolen information to

  • apply for government benefits, like health care coverage or nutrition assistance
  • open a bank or credit card account
  • apply for a loan
  • sign up for a utility service, like water or electricity
  • rent a place to live

Create A Ssagov Account

1 Simple Way To Protect Your Social Security Number

As we detailed last year, its important to create an SSA.gov account before a crook beats you to it. As the Social Security Administration puts it:

Create your account today and take away the risk of someone else trying to create one in your name, even if they obtain your Social Security number.

Thats right: Criminals who have stolen your Social Security number or other personal information can use that information to create an SSA.gov account in your name. Once they have control of your account, they can use it to divert your benefits.

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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.

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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How To Know If Someone Is Using Your Childs Personal Information

In addition to taking steps to safeguard your childs personal information, keep an eye out for warning signs that someone is using your childs personal information. Here are a few:

  • Youre denied government benefits because someone is already using your childs Social Security number to get those benefits.
  • Someone calls you and says your child has an overdue bill, but its not an account you opened for the child.
  • You get a letter from the IRS that says your child didnt pay income taxes. This could happen if someone used your childs Social Security number on tax forms for a new job.
  • Youre denied a student loan because your child has bad credit. This could happen if someone used your childs Social Security number to get a credit card, open a cell phone account, or set up a utility service and has not paid the bills on time or at all.

Signs of Child Identity Theft

  • Turned down for government benefits
  • Letter from the IRS about taxes your child owes
  • Childs student loan application is denied

When Should I Add A Fraud Alert

3 Free Ways to Protect Your Social Security Number

You should learn more about fraud alerts and consider adding one if you:

  • Are a victim of fraud or identity theft, or suspect you are a victim.
  • Find information in your credit report that doesn’t belong to you.
  • Discover unexplained transactions or withdrawals from your bank account.
  • Receive notice that your personal data was exposed in a security breach.
  • Get notices you don’t understand from collection agencies or the IRS.

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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.

Self Lock Helps Protect You From Employment

Self Lock is the unique feature that lets you protect your identity in E-Verify and Self Check by placing a “lock” on your Social Security number . This helps prevent anyone else from using your SSN to try to get a job with an E-Verify employer. If an employer enters your locked SSN in E-Verify to confirm employment authorization, it will result in an E-Verify mismatch, called a Tentative Nonconfirmation . With Self Lock, you are always in control – you can unlock your SSN any time a new employer needs to verify your employment authorization in E-Verify. Your Self Lock remains active as long as your account remains valid and you have not unlocked your SSN. The Self Lock feature is only available to myE-Verify account holders.

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How To Report Identity Theft To Social Security

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In the hands of a thief, your Social Security Number is the master key to your identity.

With a Social Security Number , a thief can unlock everything from credit history and credit line to tax refunds and medical care. In extreme cases, thieves can use it to impersonate others. So, if you suspect your number is lost or stolen, its important to report identity theft to Social Security right away.

Part of what makes an SSN so powerful in identity theft is that theres only one like it. Unlike a compromised credit card, you cant hop on the phone and get a replacement. No question, the theft of your SSN has serious implications. If you suspect it, report it. So, lets take a look at how it can happen and how you can report identity theft to Social Security if it does.

Protect Your Information Online

How do you Protect your Bank Account, Tenant Social Security Number and Everything else around Money
  • Beware of phishing, emails that claim to come from a bank, Internet Service Provider, business or charity and ask you to confirm your personal information or account number. Forward the email to .
  • Never send your SSN or financial account numbers by email or transmit these numbers online unless using a secure website or encryption software.
  • Shop only on secure websites, and read website privacy policies

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What Do I Do If My Social Security Card Or Number Is Stolen Or Lost

If your Social Security card or number is lost or stolen, you should immediately contact your local police department and the Social Security Administration to let them know about the incident. Once youve done that, there are a few other things that you can do to help mitigate the risks involved with losing your Social Security Card.

How Do Thieves Profit From Stolen Social Security Cards

Identity thieves can use your SSN to apply for more credit in your name. Of course, the scammers never pay the bills, which can damage your credit, and cause you to get calls from unknown credit demanding payment for items you never bought. They may also place your Social Security number on the Dark Web to sell to other identity thieves.

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Protect Your Social Security Number

SSNs are often used by financial institutions, businesses, and others as a unique identification number. Identity thieves often target SSNs. Guard yours carefully.

  • Never carry your Social Security card or number with you. Instead, memorize your number. Keep the card at home in a secure place.
  • Only give your SSN to someone who has a specific and legitimate need for it.*
  • Be careful who sees or asks for forms, applications, or other materials with your SSN on them.
  • Never give your SSN out over the phone.
  • Do not reply to email or websites that request your SSN.
  • You do not need a SSN to open bank accounts.
  • Don’t say your number out loud in public. If you need to give it to a bank teller or someone for identity purposes, write it down, then shred the paper.

*Some examples when you might be legitimately asked to provide your number: for insurance, employer payroll, financial transactions over $10,000, or when applying for credit or loans.

Report Identity Theft To Other Organizations

Tips to Prevent Social Security Number Identity Theft

You can also report the theft to other organizations, such as:

  • Credit Reporting Agencies – Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place fraud alerts or freezes on your accounts. Also get copies of your credit reports, to be sure that no one has already tried to get unauthorized credit accounts with your personal information. Confirm that the credit reporting agency will alert the other two credit reporting agencies.

  • National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center – Report cases of identity theft due to a stay in a nursing home or long-term care facility.

  • Financial Institutions – Contact the fraud department at your bank, credit card issuers and any other places where you have accounts.

  • Retailers and Other Companies – Report the crime to companies where the identity thief opened credit accounts or even applied for jobs.

  • State Attorney General Offices – Your state’s attorney general might offer tips, checklists, or an advocate to help you recover from identity theft. These resources don’t replace filing an ID theft report with the FTC.

You may need to get new personal records or identification cards if you’re the victim of ID theft. Learn how to replace your vital identification documents after identity theft.

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Whether And How To Get A New Social Security Number

Many stolen Social Security numbers are used simply to gain employment, with no detrimental effect to the legitimate holders of the SSN. But others are used to defraud banks, retailers, the IRS and other government agencies, which could trash your credit.

MORE: Identity Theft Victim? Here’s 6 Things You Need to Do

If several years pass after the theft of your Social Security number, and the problems arising from the theft have not gotten any better, then you may want to apply for a new SSN. But before you take that step, there are several things to consider.

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