How To Protect Your Identity When Your Social Security Card Is Stolen
If your social security card has been stolen, youve lost important vital records that prove your identity. Taking steps to protect yourself will help prevent fiscal losses.
- If you dont know your social security number, contact the Social Security Office first with a copy of your birth certificate or passport.
- Then, report identity theft to the FTC. Visit IdentityTheft.Gov and fill out the wizard to make a report.
- Also, call the IRS at 800-908-4490 to report the theft and to prevent someone from submitting a tax return in your name. You may have to prove your identity with your birth record.
Identity Theft Victim Checklist
This checklist can help identity theft victims clear up their records. It lists the actions most identity theft victims should take to limit the damage done by the thief. For more information, see the Web sites of the Federal Trade Commission at , the Identity Theft Resource Center at www.idtheftcenter.org, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse at www.privacyrights.org
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.
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Join An Identity Theft Monitoring Service
You cant possibly keep tabs on every piece of your personal data across the entirety of the Internet, theres simply too much to watch for. Using services like Identity Force and Identity Guard, discussed in detail above, can help do this work for you. They utilize powerful technology that watches for unusual activity surrounding your personal details. As soon as something suspicious arises, they send you a notification and you can spring into action. Services like this also offer fraud resolution and ID theft insurance to keep you safe from more extreme circumstances, as well.
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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.
What To Do If Your Social Security Card Is Stolen Or Missing
It is a big deal when your social security card is lost or missing since your Social Security Number is a reliable proof of identity that criminals might use to steal your financial identity. If your social security card is stolen, the issue becomes more serious because criminals will try to steal your identity or simply sell your social security card to others that will.
Taking the proper steps once your social security card is stolen, missing, or lost can help prevent this problem. The focus of this article is the steps that you should take if your social security card is stolen, such as reporting it missing/stolen/lost, using your personal identification documents such as your birth certificate to request a new card, and taking steps to prevent identity theft.
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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.
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Closely Review Your Credit Reports And Accounts
If you ever notice unusual activity, report it immediately to the applicable creditor as well as to one of the three major credit bureaus. You must provide strong evidence to the Social Security Administration of fraud on your account to secure a new Social Security Number. An identity theft protection service can help you monitor and protect your accounts to help with this process.
What Is Social Security Number Theft
Social Security Number theft or Social Security Number fraud is big business for thieves. The Social Security Administration estimates that in 2019 the administration made $7.9 billion in improper payments due to fraud. This boils down to an average cost of identity theft of over $1,000 per person!
The problem is a growing one. In 2017 the number of Social Security Numbers compromised in data breaches surpassed the number of credit card numbers, according to a study by Javelin Strategy & Research.
Social Security Number theft can wreak havoc on your credit score. The effort and time required to undo that sort of damage can often take years.
Once hackers or thieves have your SSN, they can make false statements on claims, file claims under your SSN, file fraudulent tax returns for refunds, open bank accounts and credit cards and more. A SSN, especially one with a good credit score attached, can be used to extract serious money quickly via these scams.
Let The Three Major Credit Bureaus Know
Add a fraud alert to your credit report at the three major credit bureaus TransUnion, Experian and Equifax if you are a victim of fraud or you may be. This alert can help creditors take extra steps to confirm your identity before issuing new credit under your name. Signaling one agency alerts the other two automatically.
Avoiding Social Security Fraud: Leave Your Social Security Card At Home
Once you receive your replacement Social Security card, lock it away in a safe place until you absolutely need it. Experts advise to avoid carrying your card around on a regular basis partly because of the risk of losing it again, and partly because you really dont need to present your Social Security card on a regular basis. In fact, one Social Security expert says that Social Security cards are irrelevant in the digital age, and the real priority should be targeted at fraud protection.
Its extremely rare that you need your actual Social Security card, says Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq., an Amherst, Massachusetts-based college professor whose expertise is in investigating white-collar crime. A Social Security number is the most important piece of information that a criminal can use to make you a victim of identity theft so you shouldn’t carry it with you in your wallet, anyway.
But if you do lose your card, Weisman recommends taking direct action to protecting the cardholder from financial fraud.
Because of the danger of identity theft if your Social Security card is lost, you should put a credit freeze on your credit reports at each of the three major credit reporting agencies in order to prevent someone from leveraging the Social Security number into accessing your credit or establishing accounts in your name, he says.
Other data security experts agree, citing the high risk of losing a card if you cart it around in your wallet or pocketbook.
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Can You Access Services Without Your Medicare Card
It is still possible to access healthcare services without being able to present a Medicare card. People can do this in several different ways.
A person with Original Medicare may log in to myMedicare.gov and print a temporary copy of their Medicare card.
In addition, while waiting for their replacement card, the person can ask their healthcare provider to look up their Medicare number online.
A persons primary care doctor and their previous healthcare providers may also have insurance information on file in their medical records.
It may take 30 days for a persons new card to arrive. However, a person may require proof of their Medicare enrollment before it comes.
Beneficiaries can also request a letter stating that they have Medicare and providing their Medicare number. Usually, the letter takes about 10 days to arrive.
A person may need immediate proof of Medicare coverage. In these circumstances, they may visit a local Social Security office in person.
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Place A Fraud Alert On Your Credit File
As a consumer, you have the right to request the three credit bureaus to place a 90-day fraud alert on your file.
This will require anyone who attempts to open a new account using your Social Security number to take additional steps, such as providing photo identification when opening accounts. You can actually notify just one of the bureaus and they will take care of notifying the other two.
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Consider A Credit Freeze
The strongest protection against new accounts being opened in your name is a credit freeze, also called a security freeze. A freeze means that your file cannot be shared with potential creditors, insurers, employers, or residential landlords without your permission. For more information, see our CIS 10: How to Freeze Your Credit Files.
What To Do When Someone Is Using Your Social Security Number
When an identity thief has a victim’s Social Security number, he or she has a passport to commit Social Security fraud, identity theft, and many other crimes. This is one of the many reasons why people should never carry their Social Security cards in their wallets or purses. From the time of issuance when we’re children, Social Security cards should be stored in a safe location at home, away from credit cards, drivers’ licenses, and other personal information.
If you suspect that a criminal has your Social Security number, the Social Security Administration can help point you in the right direction, but it can’t fix your credit. You’re the only one who can do that. To that end, here are some things to do if someone is using your Social Security number to commit identity theft and Social Security fraud:
1. Stay cool and focused.While identity theft is stressful, you’re the only person who can help with this problem, and you can’t solve it in a week or a month. It will take time. Stay as calm and focused as possible, and methodically address the problem.
2. Contact the credit reporting agencies.Contact TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Each agency is required to alert the other two when you place an alert. The alert will prevent a thief from opening any new accounts in your name.
Experian: 1-888-397-3742 www.experian.com
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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.
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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Requesting A Social Security Card For Your Child
Children are prone to losing things and, unfortunately, to identity theft. In fact, our child identity theft research showed that 14 percent of kids have had their identities stolen, which is a concern of over 70 percent of U.S. parents. To get your child a new SS card after it has been lost or stolen, youll need documents proving:
- Your childs identity
- Your childs U.S. citizenship, or immigration status if theyre not a U.S. citizen
- Your identity
- Your custody of or relationship to the child
All of these documents must either be originals or certified copies by the issuing agency. Once youve collected all the necessary documents, complete an SS card application11 and mail it, along with the documents, to your local SSA office or card center.12 Within 10 business days from the date on the receipt, youll receive your childs new SS card.
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. 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 .
How Can I Get A Second Social Security Number And Start Over Legally
People who want to ask for a new Social Security number must: