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 childs 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.
Recommended Reading: What Can Someone Use Your Social Security Number For
Your Social Insurance Number Is Confidential
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
Your Social Security Card
Whether youve lost your social security card or someone an acquaintance used the number, this is another common way that someone has obtained this information. Keeping your social security card safe, not keeping it in your wallet, and making sure that no one can get to it is another way to protect your identity.
If An Organization Asks For A Sin And It Is Not Legally Required
If you believe your SIN isn’t required, ask why it is being requested, how it will be used and with whom it will be shared.
If your SIN is not required by law, explain that you prefer not to provide it. Offer different proof of identity.
If the organization refuses to provide the product or service unless you provide your SIN, ask to speak to the person in charge. Many organizations don’t know about the appropriate uses of the SIN. Once they understand, they may willingly change their practices.
If you are not satisfied with the organization’s response, you may formally complain to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada or 1-800-282-1376. There is no fee for making a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.
You can also contact the organization’s industry association, ombudsman or complaint office. For example, the Canadian Marketing Association and the Canadian Banking Ombudsman handle customer complaints about their member companies.
For more information on laws about your privacy and the Government of Canada, visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
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.
Recommended Reading: When Can You Get Social Security At What Age
If You Suspect Someone Is Using Your Sin Or Have Been Victim Of Fraud
If you suspect that someone else is using your SIN, act quickly to help prevent personal loss and minimize the negative impact.
An indication that your SIN is being used fraudulently could be if the Canada Revenue Agency sends you a Notice of Reassessment concerning undeclared earnings. This may mean that someone has used your SIN for employment purposes or to receive other taxable income.
Here are some key steps to follow:
Ask each credit bureau for a copy of your credit report . Obtain information about having a fraud warning be placed on your file, instructing creditors to contact you personally before opening new accounts in your name .
To obtain credit:
A Message From Social Security
We are committed to preventing, detecting, and eliminating fraud in our programs.
Our mission is to deliver Social Security services that meet the changing needs of the public. Every day our employees work diligently to ensure the public receives the services and benefits it deserves. We strive to ensure the integrity of our programs and provide a high level of service to the public despite the efforts of those who seek to abuse our programs.
Recommended Reading: How Many Years To Collect Social Security
Dissecting The Social Security Number
The nine digit social security number is grouped into three parts the area number, group number, and serial number.
The Area Number
The area number is the first grouping in the social security number. Originally, the area number indicated the location of the Social Security Administration office where an SSN was issued . Individuals could apply at any office, so the area number was not an indication of where they lived or worked. This changed in 1972 when the Social Security Administration began issuing SSNs from its Baltimore headquarters and assigning area numbers based on the applicants mailing address.
Anyone who applied for a social security number between 1972 and 2011 will have an area number that correlates to the mailing address listed on their application . However, the area number cannot be used to determine residence since you can have mail sent to any location. In 2011, the SSA changed the way area numbers are assigned yet again to a system called randomization. Anyone applying for an SSN after June 25, 2011 has received a randomized area number that has no correlation to any location .
The Group Number
The middle section of numbers is simply there to make administration easier for the SSA. The group number ranges from 01 to 99 and allows Social Security Numbers with the same area number to be broken into smaller pairings. Geographic data is not indicated by the group number.
The Serial Number
How Thieves Steal Ssns
There are several ways thieves can get a hold of your SSN. The most obvious is by stealing the physical Social Security card. Be sure to keep it in a secure place. This is a no-brainer.
Things get more tricky when we go online. The three most used methods for stealing Social Security Numbers are phishing, malware and data breaches.
Phishing attempts are nothing new. In their efforts to steal your identity, jack your crypto or drain your rewards account, thieves use ever-more convincing methods to trick you into sharing your personal information. They often create fake websites that resemble websites of real companies that you may use regularly. The goal is to trick you into entering your private information. Often scammers will send spoofing emails with links asking you to re-enter your login information or even your SSN.
Malware falls more under the traditional hacker category. Thieves who use this method to steal personal information, including Social Security numbers, infect your computer or mobile devices with software. That software can record your keystrokes, and if you type in your social security number at some point, that will be recorded. Other types of malware steal information from files on your device.
Data breaches are a major threat to consumers because its difficult to manage your data, including Social Security Number, once submitted to a website or service and stored on their servers.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Social Security Number Of Deceased Parent
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:
Applying For A New Number Or Replacement Card
The SSA may assign a new Social Security number to you if you are being harassed, abused, or are in grave danger when using the original number, or if you can prove that someone has stolen your number and is using it. You must provide evidence that the number is being misused, and that the misuse is causing you significant continuing harm.
If you apply for a new Social Security number, you must prove
- your age
- your citizenship or lawful immigration status
- your identity
Getting a new Social Security number probably wont resolve all the problems related to the theft of your identity. Government agencies and some businesses may keep records under your original Social Security number. In addition, because credit reporting companies use Social Security numbers and other personal information to identify a persons credit file, using a new number doesnt guarantee a fresh start. But by being careful with your personal information and monitoring credit reports for fraudulent activity, you can limit the misuse.
The SSA lets you apply for an original Social Security number or a replacement Social Security card for free. The application form and information about the supporting documents you need to apply are available online. The form takes just a few minutes to complete. But that hasnt stopped some websites from claiming that the process is complicated, confusing, and time-consuming, and offering to do it for you for a fee.
Recommended Reading: When To Apply For Social Security Benefits At Age 70
How Do I Replace My Lost Or Stolen Social Security Card
In normal times, the best ways to apply for a replacement card are to visit the Social Security Administrations website, go to a local SSA office or apply over the phone. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all local Social Security offices were closed to the public for in-person service starting March 17, 2020. The SSA no longer allows you to order a replacement card online or over the phone.
Currently, the only way to apply for a replacement card is to fill out an application and mail it to your local SSA Field Office, along with one proof of your identity, such as your drivers license, U.S. Passport, U.S. birth certificate, U.S. Military ID, or your last Physicians report showing your date of birth.
Once you receive your replacement card, dont put it in your purse or wallet. Keep it stored securely in a safety deposit box, or at home.
Recommended Reading: Can You Find Someone By Social Security Number
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: It’s a good idea to check on your Social Security account once or twice a year to make sure everything looks like 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.
Theft Threat? Numbers You Need to Change Before It’s Too Late
Also Check: Social Security Payout Plan
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.
Social Security Administrations User
The Social Security Administration web site provides clear and reader-friendly information: www.ssa.gov/ssnumber. All applications for SSNs, whether original, replacement, or for change of name or data, use the same form, the SS-5 form . The different purposes may occasion differing degrees of documentation.
Read Also: Monthly Social Security Payment
Ways An Identity Thief Can Use Your Social Security Number
Having your Social Security number or card stolen isnt quite like getting your bank account information taken though granted, both are stressful experiences. The major difference is that you can get a new bank account number, while the Social Security Administration very rarely issues new Social Security numbers.
Signing Up For Credit Monitoring
Your credit card company or one of the credit bureaus may offer free credit monitoring, especially if you have previously been the victim of identity theft or a data breach. If not, you can purchase the service. These services monitor your credit reports for suspicious activity and alert you when a new account is opened using your information.
Recommended Reading: When Can I Start Drawing My Social Security
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.
How Thieves Steal Social Security Numbers
There are a number of ways for identity thieves to get their hands on your social security number. Data breaches are one major way, and are unfortunately becoming increasingly common. The 2017 Equifax breach exposed more than 143 million social security numbers when cyber criminals exploited a vulnerability on the credit bureaus website. In addition to social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, drivers license numbers, and credit card numbers were stolen.
Of course, there are other methods for criminals to obtain this personal information, including sifting through trash to recover personal documents that contain identifying information. Its important to be careful how and where you dispose of documents.
Its also important to note that there are rarely legitimate reasons to divulge your social security number. Intake forms for a number of services often ask for this information, but that doesnt mean youre required to provide it. Most Americans assume they are required to give their social security number when a doctor or dentist requests it, for example, but that is not the case. For basic medical services, your insurance coverage identification number is typically sufficient. Before you readily give out this information consider if its really necessary to do so. And keep in mind that the fewer place you share your social security number, the lower your risk of it being stolen.
Recommended Reading: Find Person With Social Security Number