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May 20, 2021
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Can You Change Your Social Security Number
You can get a new Social Security number. It’s not an easy process, though.
Dan is a writer on CNET’s How-To team. His byline has appeared in Newsweek, NBC News, The New York Times, Architectural Digest, The Daily Mail and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.
Your Social Security number is probably one of the few long numbers you can recite off the top of your head. Most of us are assigned one at birth and keep it our whole lives.
But can you change your Social Security number? Generally, the Social Security Administration discourages people from changing their numbers, because it creates confusion with tabulating and distributing benefits.
You can’t change your Social Security number simply because you want to, or because your card has been lost or stolen. But the agency makes exceptions in a small number of circumstances — like if you’re a victim of domestic abuse or identity theft — and can prove that using your existing number is causing you harm. Changing your Social Security number doesn’t automatically mean an abuser won’t be able to find you or a criminal will no longer be able to steal your identity. So it’s worth thinking seriously before applying for a new one. Here’s what you need to know about getting a new Social Security number, including the reasons it’s allowed, the process involved and other available options.
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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What Can You Do If Someone Steals Your Ssn
If your Social Security number gets stolen and you wish to protect yourself from possible harm, there are a few things you can do:
What Should I Do If My Ssn Has Been Stolen Or Being Used Without My Consent
Identity theft is alarming, especially that it can happen with just the last 4 digits of SSN and DOB. Now, your next question could be, how do you put an alert on your social security number that has been stolen?
When you receive suspicious notices, alerts, billings, or notice peculiar happenings, you need to do the following immediately:
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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.
Dealing With Identity Theft
Keep in mind just doing a credit freeze and just monitoring isnt going to help you in certain situations, Levin warned, especially when it comes to a compromised Social Security number. Keeping an eye on your credit, for instance, wont alert you to medical identity theft, taxpayer fraud or, worse, any criminal activity linked to your name.
To minimize the damage any of these examples could cause, youll need to stay vigilant. Keep a close eye on statements, like any bills or explanation of benefits your insurer sends your way. You can file your taxes early to avoid a stolen refund, and contact the IRS to flag your account, Levin said .
If you do fall victim to identity theft, youll want to report the fraud to the proper authorities: File a police report and register a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Some states also give victims special documentation that identify them as an identity theft victim and can help reverse fraud stemming from it, Levin said. These ID cards can often be obtained by contacting the state attorney generals office. You can learn more about dealing with identity theft here.
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Choosing The Right Identity Theft Service For You
Choosing the right identity theft protection service is determined by three key elements: alerts, monitoring, and restoration. First, determine how many people and devices you want to be covered as well as what types of monitoring you will need. Some can make do with just basic level services while others might require specialized services such as social media or investment monitoring as well. Your ID theft protection should also have a solid restoration package in case your identity gets stolen and this would include reimbursement for lost funds, personal expense compensation, and lawyer coverage.
Stop Junk Mail Spam Email And Unsolicited Phone Calls
Tear off the label, write your request to be removed on the label:
Fax it to the company.
Enclose the label in the postage-paid ordering envelope. Mark envelope “ATTN: customer service”.
You could pave the nation with the free discs these people send out. Call 1-800-605-4297, 24 hours a day, to get off the list. Tell them your first name is “current”, last name “resident” only.
- Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes You can get the Clearinghouse to stop clogging your mailbox by contacting customer service at 1-800-645-9242 , sending a fax to 1-800-453-0272, mailing to 101 Channel Drive, Port Washington, NY 11050, or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. PCH will remove any number of names from a specific address, but you have to list each name exactly and insist nicely.
- American Family Sweepstakes Ed McMahon and Dick Clark will stop telling you “You have definitely won 11 million dollars ” if you call them at 1-800-237-2400. AFP is a division of Time-Warner.
- Local Business & Supermarket Fliers All mailings must be identified, by postal regulations. Each loose-leaf bundle of fliers, by postal regulations, must be delivered at the same time as an address card.
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Victim Of Identity Theft
Identity Theft / Fraud Using your Social Security Number
- If you suspect your Social Security Number has been used to commit identity theft, contact the Federal Trade Commission , which is charged with handling most identity theft complaints. at 1-877-IDTHEFT or go to: www.identitytheft.gov/ To order a copy of your Social Security Administration earnings and benefits statement, or to check whether someone has used your Social Security number to get a job or to avoid paying taxes, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/statement/. If you need a copy of your Free Annual Credit Report go: annualcreditreport.com.
Report Identity Theft To Other Organizations
You can also report the theft to other organizations, such as:
Credit Reporting Agencies – Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit report. Also get copies of your credit reports, to be sure that no one has already tried to get unauthorized credit accounts with your personal information. Confirm that the credit reporting agency will alert the other two credit reporting agencies.
National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center – Report cases of identity theft due to a stay in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Financial Institutions – Contact the fraud department at your bank, credit card issuers and any other places where you have accounts.
Retailers and Other Companies – Report the crime to companies where the identity thief opened credit accounts or even applied for jobs.
State Attorney General Offices – Your state’s attorney general might offer tips, checklists, or an advocate to help you recover from identity theft. These resources don’t replace filing an ID theft report with the FTC.
You may need to get new personal records or identification cards if you’re the victim of ID theft. Learn how to replace your vital identification documents after identity theft.
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Avoid Giving Information To Untrusted Sources Online
Are you familiar with phishing? When you receive an email or call from a reputable entity, you should exercise caution in providing information about you. In a phishing scam, the scammer can pretend to be your credit card company.
Most of the time, these scams ask you security questions in your account.
For example, the scammer may ask, whats your first pets name? By providing the answer to that question, youre merely giving the scammer the key to the lock. So when theres a suspicious email or call pretending to be some company, dont immediately disclose confidential information.
Can Someone Access My Bank Account With My Social Security Number
It is very possible that someone can access your accounts with your SSN. They could call your bank and pretend to be you to gain access to your accounts. The bank typically verifies your identity by asking for your SSN or the last four digits of your SSN. If the thief has this information, then the bank might give out account information to them. Once the thief gains access to your account, they can move or withdraw money and drain your finances very quickly.
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Shred Mail And Documents With Personal Details
Discarded mail and documents are a magnet for identity thieves. Dont just throw out papers that contain personal details such as your SSN. Get a paper shredder and use it on a regular basis. While youre at it, dont leave mail in an outside mailbox for long periods. Stealing mail is another way thieves can make off with your information.
Do You Need To Pay For A New Ssn
No. Getting a new SSN, whether you are applying for an original number or a replacement Social Security card, is free. The SSA does not charge you anything and provides you with all the information you need to apply.
Beware of any company or website offering to help you apply for a new SSN. These sites are often scams that will charge you for free services or could even steal your sensitive information.
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What Are The Consequences Of Someone Using My Social Security Number
So, what can someone do with your SSN? The consequences of someone using your SSN can be dire. At the least, your credit score might be affected by someone opening unauthorized credit in your name. On the other end of the spectrum, your bank accounts could be drained even including retirement accounts and other savings. This is why it is vitally important for you to be vigilant in protecting your SSN and keeping a watchful eye on all the signs that might point toward illegal usage.
What To Do If Your Social Security Number Is Stolen
A Social Security number may be the single most important piece of government-issued identification that U.S. resident can have.
It’s definitely the most valuable piece of ID that identity thieves can get their hands on, especially when the number is combined with the rightful bearer’s name and address. Even just by itself, a valid SSN can be sold to undocumented workers or to people trying to hide their true identities.
A stolen SSN lets the thief, or the person he or she sells it to, do almost everything a legitimate SSN holder can do and more.
“You can close a credit card if it is compromised,” said Adam Dolby, senior manager of Alkami Technology. “But the problem is, you can’t close your SSN.”
If you discover your Social Security number has been stolen or otherwise misused by another person, there are several steps you’ll need to take right away.
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Here’s Where To Get More Information On Social Security Numbers
Identity Theft: If you think an identity thief is using your SSN to work or to collect benefits, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. If you think someone may be using your SSN to work, check your Social Security Personal Earnings and Benefit Statement. You can get a copy by calling 1-800-772-1213, or online at www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7004.pdf. Also see the Social Security Administration’s booklet “Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number,” at www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html.
History of SSNs: For a chronology of the laws relating to SSNs, see www.ssa.gov/history/ssn/ssnchron.html.
What the Numbers Mean: For an explanation of the meaning of the numbers in SSNs and answers to other questions about SSNs, see www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/.
More on Protecting your SSN: “Fact Sheet 10: My Social Security Number: How Secure Is It?” from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, at www.privacyrights.org.
Recommended Practices: For recommendations on how organizations can protect privacy in their handling of SSNs, see Recommended Practices for Protecting the Confidentiality of Social Security Numbers on the Business page at www.privacy.ca.gov.
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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.
Can You Apply For A New Social Security Number Online
Unfortunately, the SSA doesnât allow you to change your SSN online. Even more frustrating is that their local offices are no longer accepting in-person appointments due to the pandemic.
So where do you go to apply for a new SSN?
Your best option is to use the Social Security Office Locator to find the address and phone number for the SSA office location closest to you. Call them and explain your situation. They should be able to help guide you through the next steps of your application.
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What If Someone Has Stolen My Social Security Card
If youve lost your Social Security card or someone has stolen your SSN, youre at great risk for ID theft. There are a number of ways a thief can cause damage if theyve gotten a hold of your SSN, especially if they also have access to other identifying information such as your address, personal information, and credit card number. These include:
Financial fraud: If someone has gotten hold of your SSN, they can apply for loans and credit cards. Aside from the financial damage this may cause, it will also negatively affect your credit score when loans and payments are not met.
Medical fraud: With your stolen SSN, a thief can actually receive medical care. This can negatively affect your health insurance and corrupt your medical records with false or inaccurate information, which could have disastrous consequences down the road.
Tax fraud: Your stolen SSN can help an identity thief get an unlawful tax refund, a growing problem in the US. This will delay your own refund and can cause further tax problems down the road.