Other Reasons For Changing A Social Security Number
There are several other reasons that the SSA will issue a new number. For example, it may approve a change if similar numbers within a family unit cause confusion or if two identical numbers have been issued in error. If you have a religious objection to a certain number or sequence of numbers in your current SSN, you may also qualify for a change.
They Can Use Your Ssn To Get A Loan In Your Name
Steven J.J. Weisman, author of Identity Theft Alert: 10 Rules You Must Follow to Protect Yourself from Americas #1 Crime, said that one of the worst things an identity thief can do with your Social Security number is to obtain a loan in your name. To do this, the hacker would first need to use your SSN to access your credit reports. Then, using the data, an identity thief could get a loan in your name and never pay it back.
This is not only bad for your credit, Weisman said, but it can also affect your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, get insurance or obtain a loan. All of these things often depend on having a good credit report.
If this type of fraud happens to you, you need to contact the lender involved, the police and the FTC. The issue can be difficult and time-consuming to fix.
Pro tip: Weisman said its easier to safeguard your SSN than it is to repair ruined credit after someone has stolen it.
You should not carry your Social Security number in your wallet or purse, he said. You should not provide it as an identifying number to everyone who asks for it. Many places ask for it but dont need it by law.
The lesson here: Always ask if your SSN is actually needed.
What Should You Do If You Think Your Social Security Number Has Been Stolen
If you think your SSN has been stolen, you should immediately reach out to your banks, credit card companies and other financial services providers to let them know. Youll also want to inform the three main credit bureaus. Its a good idea to file a police report to have an official record, and make sure to check the FTCs official recommendations, which list who to notify and how.
Having your identity stolen can wreak havoc on your personal and financial life, but being as careful as possible with your SSN can help protect you. If you do find yourself the victim of identity theft or fraud, you may need to seek help from a or legal counsel.
Reviewed by Anna Grozdanov, Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. by Lexington Law.
Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.
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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.**
Monitor Your Bank And Credit Card Accounts
Keep close tabs on your bank and credit card balances. This is one way to make sure your SSN and identity have not been compromised. Many banks let you sign up for account alerts. They will send you text messages or call you if transactions exceed a certain amount or if someone tries to use your SSN to access your account.
Check your on a regular basis at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can usually only do this once a year for free, but due to COVID-19, you are allowed to get free weekly credit reports through April 20, 2022. If the Social Security Administration is still sending you an annual statement detailing your earnings, and it looks out of whack, someone might be using your number for employment purposes. You can register to get statements at the SSA website.
The three credit reporting bureaus are offering free weekly credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com through April 20, 2022, due to the hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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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.
What Can Someone Do With Your Social Security Number
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Laws editorial disclosure for more information.
Your Social Security number is one of the most important identifiers you have for financial and legal purposes. Most people born in the United States are issued one at birth, but its not usually something you use yourself until youve reached adulthood. But what happens if someone gets your Social Security number? Keep reading to find out how your SSN can be stolen and what criminals can do with it once they have it.
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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.
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.
They Can Use Your Ssn To Get A Drivers License In Your Name
When asked for a photo identity, you are likely to whip out your drivers license. It is accepted as proof of who you are, where you live and how old you are. So if an identity thief is able to obtain a drivers license in your name, it opens many fraudulent doors.
To get a drivers license, you generally have to pass a written test, a driving test and an eye exam, and provide your name, address and SSN. A hacker might be able to get a drivers license in your name without you even knowing it.
Pro tip: If you believe that your name and Social Security number were used to obtain a fraudulent drivers license, immediately contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Warning signs could be traffic tickets issued in states you have never visited or warrants for your arrest you know nothing about.
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When You Dont Have To Provide Your Sin
Some private-sector organizations may ask for your SIN. This practice is strongly discouraged, but it is not illegal.
Here are examples of when you dont have to give your SIN:
- proving your identity
- completing a job application before you get the job
- completing an application to rent a property
- negotiating a lease with a landlord
- completing a credit card application
- cashing a cheque
Your Social Security number, a unique identifier issued by the Social Security Administration , is meant to stay with you for life and never change. But there are instances where the SSA makes exceptions. These include times when your safety is endangered or you are a victim of identity theft. Here is why some people change their Social Security numbers and how to go about it if you wish to.
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.
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Sign Up For Identity Protection
Another big thing that you are going to be able to do to help prevent yourself from becoming a victim is by signing up for identity protection. By signing up for various different kinds of identity protection services, you will be able to get complete security protection. These services are typically going to allow you to figure out whether or not someone is improperly using your social security number because they will alert you to any new sign-ups using your social security number. They will be able to tell you whether or not there have been new accounts opened using your number which is going to allow you to actively monitor your new account openings.
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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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.
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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What To Do If You Lose Your Social Security Card
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- Your Social Security number can be valuable information for identity thieves
- Consider placing a security freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports if your Social Security card is lost
- If you know your Social Security number has been stolen, there are some additional steps you can take
Your Social Security number is a valuable piece of information to identity thieves. Its a key element of your identity and is also linked to taxes and credit information. And except in limited circumstances, it cant be changed. Thats why its so worrisome to have your card lost or stolen.
Here are some steps to take for a lost or stolen Social Security card:
1. Consider placing a fraud alert or a security freeze on your credit reports or locking them. With an initial fraud alert, potential lenders and creditors are encouraged to take additional steps to verify your identity, such as contacting you by phone, before extending new credit. A fraud alert lasts for one year and can be renewed. Fraud alerts are free. Contact one of the three nationwide credit bureaus Equifax, Experian or TransUnion to request a fraud alert, and that bureau will notify the other two.
Options for locking your credit report may also be available from the three nationwide credit bureaus. Learn more about fraud alerts, security freezes and credit report locks.
You might also consider calling the Social Security Administration at 772-1213 to report the lost card.
They Can Use Your Ssn To Claim Your Social Security Check
Although you are regularly asked to use your SSN for identification, its primary purpose is linked to your Social Security benefits. The government keeps track of your earnings and your Social Security tax payments with your SSN, and you need it in order to claim Social Security retirement or disability benefits.
For example, if you are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits but have opted to wait until you reach full retirement age, a hacker with your SSN could apply for those benefits in your name. Because Social Security benefits are usually deposited directly into a bank account, you might not even discover this until you try to apply for benefits years down the road.
Pro tip: Its a good idea to check your Social Security account once or twice a year to make sure everything looks as it should. If you believe that a scammer is using your SSN to collect your Social Security benefits, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 800-269-0271.
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Make Sure You Fall Under One Of The Five Eligible Situations
The most common reasons why youâll want to get a new SSN are identity theft and personal danger.
These are the only situations in which the SSA will consider giving you a new number. You cannot get a new Social Security number if your card is lost but thereâs no evidence that someone is using it, if youâre trying to avoid the law or creditors, or to avoid the consequences of filing for bankruptcy.
If you lose your Social Security card and don’t believe anyone is using it, you should request a replacement card with your old number.
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.