Identity Theft: What You Need To Know
Thieves with access to personal information Social Security number, birth certificate, PIN or credit card numbers, even pre-approved credit card solicitations can steal your identity and apply for credit in your name, racking up huge debts without you even knowing that it has happeneduntil its too late. Stay safe. Follow these simple suggestions.
Safeguard Your Personal Information: ;
Protect Your Bank Accounts and Your Mail:
Protect Yourself on the Internet and Protect Your Computer:
- If you must use a public computer, confirm first that it is not running a desktop search engine and that the proprietor has denied users administrative privileges so they can’t install any programs that might be used to capture your emails or passwords.;
If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft:
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**Originally published July 11, 2017. Updated April 14, 2021.**
Dont Send Your Ssn Via An Electronic Device
Never type your SSN into an email or instant message and send it. The majority of such messages can be intercepted and read. Also, dont leave a voicemail that includes your SSN. If you need to contact someone and give them your number, its best to do it in person. The second best way is to reach them on the phone and do it live.
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What Is Identity Theft
Identity theft is when a cybercriminal steals your personal and/or financial information. This could be personal information like your birthdate, Social Security number, or email address and phone number. Or and even more dangerous when your financial information is stolen, giving someone access to your bank account, login information, or credit card numbers.
Identity theft is all too common. The Federal Trade Commission estimates as many as 9 million Americans have their identity stolen each year. With the rise of tele-health and other online experiences, this number is expected to grow. The resulting headache istime-consuming, costly, and stressful; the average cost of resolving identity fraud was $2,895, and it can take weeks or even months to unravel.
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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How Do I Tell If Someone Has Stolen My Social Security Number
Unfortunately, this type of crime can often be challenging to discover. People who steal a persons social security number can use their identity for long periods without being found out. However, there are ways that you can check whether your social security number has been compromised.;
The best way to find out if someone has stolen your social security number is by keeping a close eye on your . Your credit report can make you aware of any unusual activity. For example, if you notice any accounts that do not belong to you, this could indicate that you are a victim of identity theft using your social security number.;
What Can I Do To Prevent Identity Theft
Here are a number of ways to protect your assets and good name:
Periodically contact the major credit reporting agencies to get and review your file and make sure your information is correct. You can request a free annual credit report from each of the 3 national credit reporting agencies, whether or not you suspect any unauthorized activity on your account, by going to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or calling . Or you can request a report by directly contacting each of the agencies below. They can also tell you about setting up fraud alerts and security freezes:
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Plan For Your Childs Future
Keeping your childs Social Security number secure is an important step toward keeping his or her benefits safe like Social Security benefits for his or her future family. Children grow up fast, and it’s important to think about his or her later-in-life experiences, too.;
Its never too early to plan well for yourself as well. Cake can help you store your will, name an estate beneficiary, and secure your legal documents safely online. Cakes free online profile ensures that all of your end-of-life resources are in one place so you wont have to worry about replacing a lost document ever again.
What Is Social Security Fraud
Generally speaking, fraud involves obtaining something of value through willful misrepresentation. In the context of the Social Security program, our policy states that fraud exists when a person with intent to defraud makes, or causes to be made, a false statement, or misrepresents, conceals, or fails to disclose a material fact for use in determining rights under the Social Security Act. Information is material when it could influence SSAs determination on entitlement or eligibility to benefits under the Act.
Examples of fraud include:
- Making false statements on claims
- Concealing facts or events that affect eligibility for benefits
- Misusing benefits by a representative payee
- Failing to notify the agency of the death of a beneficiary and continuing to receive the deceased persons benefits
- Buying or selling Social Security cards
- Filing claims under another persons Social Security number
- Scamming people by impersonating our employees
- Bribing our employees
- Misusing grant or contract funds
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What To Do If You Lose Your Social Security Card
Now that you know the basics, lets take a deeper dive on what to do if you lose your Social Security card. To be sure, quick action is important.
If an individual loses their Social Security card, the first thing they should do is make sure they have claimed their My SSA profile at the Social Security My Account website, says Devin Carroll, founder of Social Security Intelligence, in Texarkana, Texas. Not only can you request a replacement card, you can also quickly check the accuracy of your annual earnings history, print benefits statements and change your address.
When you do reach out to the Social Security Administration to report and replace a lost card, know going in that the agency has a substantial to do list that needs to be completed before they’ll even accept your request for a new Social Security card.
The good news is that the Social Security Administration provides, free of charge, three card replacements on an annual basis, and 10 free cards in the course of an individuals lifetime.
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How To Keep Your Social Security Card Safe
Keeping your card under lock and key is vital to the health of your overall financial and medical life. Its time to focus on protecting your card in the future.
- A watertight and fireproof safe can be a good option for keeping your Social Security card safe, as well as other important documents. Ask your bank about a safe deposit box if youâll be away from your home for an extended period.
- Never carry your Social Security card with you. Unless you need your card for a specific purpose that day, it should be kept safe at home.
- Follow safe procedures for keeping your Social Security number safe online, in email and over the phone. Fraudsters use âphishingâ techniques to get access to your personal data, often posing as a bank or government official â never give your social security number out.
- Purchase a shredder or use a secure shredding service for all documents containing your Social Security and financial information.
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Consider Taking The Following Actions
Contact any of the three credit reporting agencies and ask that a free fraud alert be placed on your credit report. Also ask for a free credit report. You only need to contact one of the three agencies because the law requires the agency you call to contact the other two.;
Once you have a fraud alert on your credit report place, a business must verify your identity before it issues new credit in your name.; The alert remains active for;a year;and can be renewed by you;for up to seven years.
Change the passwords, pin numbers, and log in information for all of your potentially affected accounts, including your email accounts, and any accounts that use the same password, pin, or log in information.;
Contact your police department, report the crime and obtain a police report.;
Go to the webpage of the Federal Trade Commission, report the ID theft and create an;identity theft recovery plan:;;
Texas law;provides victims of identity theft the option of seeking a court order declaring that you are a victim of identity theft.; If you are granted this type of court order, you may submit it to private businesses and to governmental entities to help correct any records that contain inaccurate or false information which resulted from the identity theft.
ALWAYS: REMAIN VIGILANT
How Do Identity Thieves Get My Personal Information
Identity thieves operate in a variety of ways and may use some of the following tactics to get your information:
Stealing your ID cards, credit cards, and bank cards
Stealing your mail, including account statements, pre-approved credit card offers, and tax information
Buying your personal information from sources such as employees at stores, restaurants, or hotels
Getting your information off the Internet
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Stealing A Social Security Number Is A Crime
When someone uses or otherwise steals someone elses Social Security number, its not the same as stealing another persons checkbook or credit card, but the damage can be just as bad if not worse. A victim can go out and open a new bank account or get a new credit card if either of those are stolen, but people can rarely get a replacement Social Security number thats the major difference.
Social Security numbers are issued by the Social Security Administration for identity-tracking purposes. Whenever someone starts a new job, files taxes, opens a new credit card or bank account, or applies for government benefits, they need their Social Security number. Social Security numbers are used to verify peoples identities and record their earnings.
Tips For Recognizing Identity Theft
Below are some tips for recognizing when you have possibly been a victim of identity theft:;
- If you did not receive an expected bill or statement by mail – or you receive a bill for something you didn’t order.
- If unexpected charges occurr;on your account credit cards.
- If there are charges on your account from unrecognized vendors.
- If posted checks appear on your Bank account significantly out of sequence.
- If you receive credit cards that you didn’t apply for, in your name or someone else’s!;
- If you are denied credit or are offered less than favorable credit terms for no reason.
- If you get calls from creditors or debt collectors regarding merchandise or services that you did not buy.
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Open Accounts In Your Name
A criminal can use your social security number to open bank accounts, take out credit cards, and loans in your name. This can adversely impact your credit score and leave you unable to secure financial loans in the future.;
Although you may be able to detect a social security number breach using your credit report, it wont instantly wipe these transactions from your record. Even if you have been a victim of identity fraud, the damage done by the thief can take months or even years to recover from.;
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
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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.
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.
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