Social Security Scams: How To Protect Report And Recover From Fraud
Our most recent Consumer Pulse revealed digital fraud has risen significantly in the last year. In fact, since March of 2020, reports of digital fraud have increased 73%. One popular scheme involves fraudsters impersonating Social Security Administration employees to try to trick you into revealing your valuable personal information or trying to get you to pay them for a made-up violation. They may threaten or demand immediate payment to avoid legal action. The SSA stated they received almost 700,000 allegations of Social Security scams carried out by calls, emails, text messages or mail. Below we explain how to avoid these scams, how to report them and what to do if you accidentally fall victim.
Social Security Identity Theft Faq
What should I do if I believe my Social Security number has been stolen or misused?
If you think someone is using your Social Security,
- Review your Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
- Review your Social Security earnings record for accuracy.
- Visit the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov to report identity theft and get a recovery plan.
- Contact the Federal Internal Revenue Service Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
- Order a free credit report .
- File a police report.
Note: The Social Security Administration can only resolve Social Security number reporting problems on their own records.
What should I do if I think my name and/or Social Security number is being used to obtain a fake drivers license?
The Michigan Department of State Office of Investigative Services is committed to protecting the integrity of all MDOS programs and documents issued by the agency.
If you witness, suspect or know of fraudulent, improper or suspicious activity involving any MDOS documents or programs, please contact the OIS immediately at:
FRAUD TIP LINE: 844-372-8356
When you contact OIS, provide as much detail as possible. Include your contact information as an investigator may need to contact you for additional information. All reports will be kept confidential.
Signs Of A Scam Or Attempted Fraud
While only the person providing information to the SSA is responsible for its accuracy, you can report someone if you suspect them of providing incorrect or misleading data. The same is true for a representative payee who may be abusing his or her position.
As for other scams, you need to be aware of how they work so you dont become a victim. One of the typical schemes is to call from a number that looks like or comes up as the actual SSA phone number. Scammers may also contact you by text message or email using official-looking numbers, links and addresses.
While they are pretty good at disguising themselves and making these communication attempts seem legitimate, keep in mind that an actual SSA employee will never ask for personal information via text or email. The SSA will usually contact you by mail before using other means. Texts, emails and social media posts from the SSA are for information purposes only.
The real SSA wont threaten you in any way. They will never suspend your SSN or demand payments, especially through gift cards or wire transfers. Also, administration employees will not change your benefits for a bribe or payment.
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How To Report Identity Theft To Social Security
8 MIN READ
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.
Identity Theft: What You Need To Know
Thieves with access to personal information Social Security number, birth certificate, PIN or credit card numbers, even pre-approved credit card solicitations can steal your identity and apply for credit in your name, racking up huge debts without you even knowing that it has happeneduntil its too late. Stay safe. Follow these simple suggestions.
Safeguard Your Personal Information:
Protect Your Bank Accounts and Your Mail:
Protect Yourself on the Internet and Protect Your Computer:
- If you must use a public computer, confirm first that it is not running a desktop search engine and that the proprietor has denied users administrative privileges so they can’t install any programs that might be used to capture your emails or passwords.
If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft:
Certegy Inc.: 437-5120
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Take Action If You Are A Victim
There are steps you can take if your Social Security number or other personal information is compromised.
If your Social Security number is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends these actions:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice: Call the number provided.
- If your e-filed return is rejected because of a duplicate filing under your Social Security number, or if the IRS instructs you to do so, complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit PDF. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then attach the form to your return and mail your return according to instructions.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov for steps you should take right away to protect yourself and your financial accounts.
See Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works for more information about how the IRS can help you.
If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution, contact us for specialized assistance at . We have teams standing by to help you.
If you believe someone has filed a fraudulent return in your name, you can get a copy of the return. See Instructions for Requesting a Copy of Fraudulent Returns.
Not all data breaches or computer hacks result in tax-related identity theft. Its important to know what type of personal information was stolen.
You can report other suspicious online or emailing phishing scams to .
You Put An Account Number Into A Dummy Website
Some phishing emails or fraudulent URLs are created to look so convincingly like your bank’s, it is easy to mistakenly enter your username and password or, if they ask for it, your checking or savings account number. Other websites are made to emulate popular e-commerce or retail websites, tricking you into entering your credit card details.
If you’ve given away any of these numbers, call your bank immediately and describe the error in detail. Your bank should be able to read back any charges have been made fraudulently and connect you to the right department to help freeze or suspend the accounts that may have been comrpomised. You can typically find the fraud department directly by using the fraud services number on the back of your credit card, or on the bank’s website.
If fraudulent charges have been made, you may have to fill out a paper report, and any reimbursement may take time, typically a bit longer for debit cards than for credit cards. Here’s a version of one of these forms, used by Inova Federal Credit Union. A banker may call you to ask follow-up questions.
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Heres How To Check Your Childs Credit Report
To check your childs credit report with Equifax and Experian, do the following:
To check your childs credit report with Transunion, do the following:
If You Have Been Affected By A Data Breach
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the integrity of the SIN program from fraud and misuse. It takes any breach of information very seriously.
If you have been affected by a data breach, contact Canadas 2 major credit bureaus to monitor your file.
- Equifax: 1-800-465-7166
- TransUnion: 1-800-663-9980
Regularly review your banking and credit card statements, especially after the credit monitoring service ends.
If you notice any suspicious activity, immediately report it to the police, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, and inform Service Canada. This will help reduce the potential impact.
Service Canada does not issue a new SIN for those affected by a data breach.
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Apply For A New Ssn As A Last Resort
If you believe youve done everything you can and someone is still using your SSN, you may need to request a new number from the SSA. If you decide to apply for a new number, you will need to prove your identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or immigration status. You will also need to provide evidence that someone is using your old number. The SSA booklet Your Social Security Number and Card explains the application process.
Bear in mind that a new SSN may not solve all your problems. Think about all the government agencies, banks, credit reporting companies, and others that already have and use your old number.
Once you receive a new SSN, do not use your old number again. Make sure your new number is reported to all agencies that will need it and that those agencies know you no longer use your old number.
How To Protect Yourself: Identity Theft
Identity theft is a serious problem that affects millions each year. When an imposter uses your name, Social Security number , credit card number or any other form of personal information without your knowledge and permission, its a crime.
Unfortunately, sometimes victims remain unaware that their identity has been stolen until they receive monthly statements for credit card accounts they never applied for, credit reports including unfamiliar debts or monthly statements that include unauthorized charges.
If someone has stolen your identity, immediately take these three steps:
Take control of your identity.
Although identity thieves can destroy your personal finances, there are some things you can do to take control of the situation.
Some ways to handle the most common forms of identity theft are:
A- If an identity thief has stolen your mail for access to new credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers and tax information or falsified change-of-address forms, that person has committed a crime. Report it to your local postal inspector. You may contact the United States Postal Inspection Service online at .
G- If any identity thief is using your name or SSN to obtain a drivers license, report it to your states Department of Motor Vehicles. Also, if your state uses your SSN as your drivers license number, ask to substitute another number.
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S To Take If You Think Youve Been Scammed
The Social Security Administration publishes a useful booklet called “Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number.” In addition to basic protection tips, it provides information about what you should do if you believe your identity and SSN have been stolen or compromised.
The Social Security Administration closed all of its offices for in-person services in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its online services, however, remain available.
Report Social Security Scam Calls
Social Security Administration and its Inspector General Announce New Online Reporting Form for Imposter Scam Calls
Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, and Gail S. Ennis, the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, announce the launch of a dedicated online form at to receive reports from the public of Social Security-related scams. These scamsin which fraudulent callers mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for purported Social Security number problemsskyrocketed over the past year to become the #1 type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration.
To combat these scams, Social Security and the OIG will use the new online form to capture data that will be analyzed for trends and commonalities. The OIG will use the data to identify investigative leads, which could help identify criminal entities or individuals participating in or facilitating the scams. Ultimately, these efforts are expected to disrupt the scammers, help reduce this type of fraud, and reduce the number of victims.
We are taking action to raise awareness and prevent scammers from harming Americans, Commissioner Saul said. I am deeply troubled that our country has not been able to stop these crooks from deceiving some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
Social Security will not:
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Keep Your Identity Safe
If you use an online application to do your taxes, you can now log in with your username, password and a third personal item like a phone number. Using all 3 will keep your identity and data safer.
Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen personal information, including your Social Security number, to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund.
If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, continue to pay your taxes and file your tax return, even if you must file a paper return.
How To Prevent Social Security Fraud
When looking to prevent Social Security fraud, watch out for scams that can result in having your Social Security card or number compromised by identity thieves. Outside of limited government authorities, certain medical providers and financial institution in which you have and/or applying for accounts, you should never provide your Social Security information to anyone.
Also, track your credit reports and stay abreast of any changes to your account. Use credit monitoring agencies to provide instant alerts. Check your credit report regularly with Experian CreditWorks. Also, don’t carry your Social Security card around, or store your number in a mobile phone. In general, don’t keep your Social Security number anywhere that presents a risk of being compromised.
Additionally, shred any documents that include personal data, store financial documents and records in a safe place, and install anti-virus protection software on personal computers and digital devices.
If a company or organization requests your Social Security number and you don’t think they should need it, it’s always a good idea to ask why it’s necessary or confirm if it’s optional.
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You’re Locked Up With Ransomware
Ransomware is ugly, and it’s taken down everyone from FedEx and Merck to the city government of Atlanta. Ransomware is malicious software that locks up your computer or files, making it impossible to access them.
Anyone can be a victim. Criminals have even targeted individual people, who have ended up paying a few hundred bucks to free up their photo albums.
If you’re a victim of ransomware, you will typically lose access to your files, and you may receive an automatic message from a criminal offering to give you an encryption key that will unlock your files for a fee.
Back important files up. The best defense against ransomware is a good offense. If you back up your most important home files, then you may lose the hardware locked up by the ransomware, but you won’t have to pay money to a criminal to get back your data. The easiest way to do this is using free or low-cost personal backup storage programs like , Apple’s iCloud or Microsoft’s OneDrive.
Hunt for a decryption solution. There are also free databases of publicly available information that can help you decrypt many popular strains of ransomware, so if you are up to hunting down this information, you may be able to simply unlock your files without paying a cent to anyone or losing your computer. The No More Ransom project offers an easy-to-use interface, where you can type in details of the ransom demand or other information to find out if a solution already exists.
You Gave Your Social Security Number Away
If you suspect somebody has your Social Security Number — whether they stole it from a company or you gave it to them voluntarily — it’s important to set up credit monitoring. Typically your bank or the company that was breached will provide this to you for free.
You generally shouldn’t pay for credit monitoring, as high quality free products have proliferated in the marketplace particularly after the incident at Equifax. Paid credit monitoring services can be tricky to cancel, and you can typically achieve the same level of service with a free product.
Set up alerts so you know the instant anything changes with your credit score — you can usually do this through the credit monitoring program offered by your bank or credit card company, which is almost always a free service. Some of these services are free even if you’re not a customer of the bank, such as Capital One’s Credit Wise. In fact, you may want to do this anyway — monitoring your credit in this manner is good for everyone, not just victims of cybercrime.
If you provided a scammer with your Social Security Number directly, or you already think your number was used fraudulently, you will need to act more urgently. You can place a credit freeze on your account with the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Transunion and Experian.
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