Your Info Can Be Used To Cover Medical Treatment
People who steal your info arent just using it to buy lavish items. They can also use it to receive medical treatment by using your Social Security number and health insurance account numbers.
In most cases, use your same address, phone number everything. Their goal is to get treatment and/or medications, and then they are gone, leaving very little time for them to be found out, says Justin Lavelle, chief communications officer at background checking service BeenVerified.com.
In fact, according to research from Michigan State University, there were nearly 1,800 incidents of medical data breaches with patients information from October 2009 to December 2016.
Hackers can receive treatments, prescriptions and more by using your benefits. In addition to increased expenses for you, this can also put your own health at risk as the thiefs medical information will now be mixed up with yours.
Be sure to thoroughly review your medical bills and insurance statements as these may show signs of identity theft. You can check if the claim description matches the care you received.
If you see a discrepancy, call your health provider to report it.
Also make a habit of regularly checking your credit reports to check for delinquent medical bills on your credit reports.
California Law Limits The Public Display Of Social Security Numbers
A California law bars organizations from publicly displaying SSNs2. The law prohibits:
- Printing SSNs on ID cards or badges
- Printing SSNs on documents mailed to customers, unless the law requires it or the document is a form or application
- Printing SSNs on postcards or any other mailer where its visible without opening an envelope
- Avoiding legal requirements by encoding or embedding SSNs in cards or documents, such as using a bar code, chip, or magnetic strip
- Requiring people to send SSNs over the Internet, unless the connection is secure or the number is encrypted
- Requiring people to use an SSN to log onto a web site, unless a password is also used
- The law applies to businesses, government, and other entities.
How To Spot A Social Security Scam Call
As scammers become more sophisticated in their methods, it is increasingly hard to tell whether calls you receive are genuine or not. However, there are some signs you should look out for:
- As a general rule, you will never ever receive a call from the SSA unless you have recently been in contact with the organization. The SSA will not notify you that your SSN number has been frozen or compromised over the phone.
- If someone calls you and asks you for your SSN, this is a huge red flag. The SSA will already have this information and won’t ask you to confirm it for “security purposes” or any other reason.
- If someone calls you and asks you for your personal or financial information, it’s likely to be a scammer. Again, the SSA will not ask you to confirm this information for “security purposes” or any other reason.
- If someone calls you late at night and claims to be from the SSA, it’s likely a scammer. The SSA will only contact you during working hours.
- If someone calls you and claims to be from the SSA, and then asks you to make payment via wire transfer or PayPal, this is likely to be a scam call. The SSA doesn’t accept payment via these methods.
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Some Immediate Action Steps To Take
- Notify your bank or financial institution about the theft of your Social Security number.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov from the Federal Trade Commission to file a report and create a personalized plan for recovery.
- Download the Identity Theft Help App from the Identity Theft Resource Center for free help with identity theft cases.
- Go to annualcreditreport.com to obtain a free copy of your credit report, add a fraud alert or freeze your credit on Experian, Equifax and TransUnion in one place.
- If you need to contact one of the credit reporting companies directly, their customer service numbers are:
If You Have Been Issued A New Sin
If you receive a new SIN, contact all your banks, creditors, pension providers and employers so that they may update your files.
Note: Service Canada cannot correct a credit file.
A new SIN will not protect you from fraud or identity theft. If someone uses your old SIN and a business does no t check your account with the credit bureau, you may need to pay the impostors debts. Every time someone else uses your old SIN fraudulently, you will have to prove that you were not involved in the fraud.
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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.
They Can Sell Your Identity To Launch Spam Attacks
Although it might seem as if credit cards and loans are the endgame for most hackers who steal your SSN, thats not always the case. Hackers also use your SSN to access information about you to sell.
According to an NPR report, some documents can sell for big money and there was a big leap in price from 2020 to 2021. Details about credit cards with account balances of up to $1,000 can fetch the hacker $150, up from $12 a year ago. The fee goes up to $240 for information about accounts with balances as high as $5,000. Stolen online banking logos for accounts with a minimum balance of at least $2,000 go for $120.
Pro tip: Your SSN is precious, so try to find an alternative before opting to give it out. Alternates could include your drivers license or an account number.
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Tip : Leave Home Without It
There may be times when you need to show your card to someone. But, in general, its a good idea to avoid carrying your card or any documents that display your SSN. Its possible you might lose your wallet or leave your documents behind.
Not all thieves will want your Social Security number, but many will. Leaving your card at home decreases the chances that these scammers will gain access to your Social Security number.
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.
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How Can I Find Out If Someone Opened An Account In My Name
The best way to find out if someone has opened an account in your name is to pull your own credit reports to check. Note that you’ll need to pull your credit reports from all three bureausExperian, Equifax and TransUnionto check for fraud since each report may have different information and reporting.
Someones Got Your Number What Can You Do
Figuring out that someone has your Social Security Number is one thing. Fixing the problem is another. If you think someone is using your Social Security Number, you need to move quickly.
You have four things you need to do. You need to contact the Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft, contact the credit reference agencies to report the theft, contact the Social Security Administration, and contact your local police.
- The FTC is at 1-877-438-4338 or . There is a form to complete to report identity theft.
- Contact the three credit reference agencies and ask them to place a freeze on your credit report. This will prevent any new applications being created in your name. This will stop more debt from piling up.
- Contact the SSA on 1-800-269-0271 or Log on to the IRS Identity Protection website to alert them and prevent any tax returns from being filed in your name.
- Optionally, but recommended, alert the Internet Crime Complaints Center at . They alert other agencies that your SSN has been compromised.
Once all that has been done, report the crime to your local police. If you know how the theft took place, for example, you had your wallet stolen, the police will want to know where the theft would have happened, and what transpired.
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Social Security Numbers And Identity Theft
Social Security numbers are frequently used as a personal identifier and to obtain credit. They contain no biometrics and rely on documentation to prove validity. They are susceptible to use for identity theft and fraud.
A notable example is when the chief executive officer of identity theft prevention service LifeLock used his SSN in advertisements as a testament to his company’s effectiveness. His identity was later stolen multiple times.
There has been some movement among legislators to separate some activities from SSN use, such as renting an apartment or obtaining a hunting or fishing license.
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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Who Doesnt Qualify For Benefits
Workers with the Social Security Administration would not do any of the above things.
According to the SSA, they will never call you to threaten you, suspend your SS or ask for immediate payment.
They will never ask for any type of money over the phone.
They will also never ask you for your banking information.
If you hear anything about a problem with your account or SSN, be wary.
Act Fast And Protect Yourself From Future Fraud
There are a lot of ways for someone to get your Social Security number.
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Lets face it: your Social Security number is probably out there somewhere. This federal identification number is used for so many purposesfrom tax forms to credit apps to student information formsthat it exists in myriad places. And while organizations that ask for personally identifying information, including your Social Security number , do have an obligation to keep it as secure as possible, mistakes and cyberattacks happen. Sometimes, the person who gives up your SSN to a scammer is you.
Find out what to do if youre a victim of identity fraud, and learn about Social Security number fraud and how to avoid it in the future.
What happens if you accidentally give someone your Social Security number?
No matter how or why it happened, if you give your SSN to someone you suspect might be a scammeror think that your SSN has been stolen for any other reasontake action quickly. You could become a victim of identity theft. First, check your credit reports to ensure nothing is amiss right now with your accounts. If you find anything, consider working with professionals such as Lexington Law to address errors on your report.
How do I check to see if someone is using my Social Security number?
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Check Your Credit Report
The Social Security Administration can tell you if someone is working on your SSN and the IRS can tell you if someone is filing taxes on it, but only your credit agencies can tell you if someone is using your SSN to acquire and use credit in your name.
There are three major credit reporting agencies in the United States: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. They each have slightly different methodologies and scoring programs, but they all more or less provide the same service.
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months . By contacting each service and requesting your report, you can immediately spot any suspicious activity on your credit accounts. Look for credit card applications, loan applications, and any debt you dont recognize.
Requesting your reports is simple:
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 transunion.com
is a reputable service, and if you sign up for it you can keep a monthly eye on your credit score and your credit history, making it very difficult for an identity thief to put one over you in the long run.
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.
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How To Find Out If Your Social Security Number Has Been Stolen
Thieves can operate under your identity for years without discovery, and some of these crimes are very difficult to detect. One of the best things you can do is regularly check a free credit report. Review your credit report thoroughly for unauthorized accounts or public records not related to you. These red flags could indicate clerical errors or identity theft. Either way, you want to watch out for it and act as soon as you see something suspicious. You can also check out these other ways you can find out if youre a victim of identity theft.
Christine DiGangi is the former Deputy Managing Editor – Engagement for Credit.com and covered a variety of personal finance topics. Her writing has beenfeatured on USA Today, MSN, Yahoo! Finance and The New York Times International Weekly, among other outlets. More by Christine DiGangi
is a USA TODAY content partner offering personal finance news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
Hackers Can Use Your Ssn To Get Credit Cards In Your Name
The important thing for people to understand is that once someone has your Social Security number, particularly in combination with your name and address, they can do pretty much anything that requires your SSN, said Brian Focht, an attorney and head of the Law Offices of Brian C. Focht in Charlotte, North Carolina, who lists cybersecurity and privacy law among his practice areas.
Focht said that fraudulently obtaining credit cards is by far the most common SSN scam that he sees in his practice. It is possible for a hacker to get a credit card with just your name, address and Social Security number. Once the credit cards are in place, fraudsters can run up a lot of debt.
Generally speaking, criminals aim to get the most they can with the least effort, Focht said. In his view, keeping your SSN safe requires two things: understanding and implementing security best practices, and luck.
The best that anyone can do these days is be suspicious about anyone/anything that asks for personal information, Focht said. If it doesnt seem right, its probably not. Beyond that, theres just a lot that is way out of anyones control.
Pro tip: If you suspect someone has opened a credit card in your name, Focht said your first calls should be to the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Dont just contact one call all three.
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