Sunday, August 14, 2022

What Happens If Your Social Security Number Gets Stolen

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Identifying Ssn Theft Signs

What happens if your Social Security Number gets stolen? – Protect Now Weekly Security Snapshot EP 8

It’s often hard to tell if someone stole your SSN until they start using this information to commit identity theft. However, you could identify it early on if you scan the news for data breaches that involved your information, notice a lost SSN card or important mail, or realize you gave your SSN to a likely scammer. Once identity thieves start using a stolen SSN, you might experience these incidents:

  • Sudden rises or drops in your credit score
  • Letters from the Social Security Administration about changes to your account
  • Phone, email and mail communications regarding a bank, credit or insurance accounts you didn’t open
  • Seeing suspicious activities such as incorrect balances, new accounts or delinquencies on your credit report
  • Missing government benefits payments
  • Notices about tax returns you didn’t file
  • Medical bills you don’t recognize
  • Problems getting employment, health insurance or financing
  • Unknown charges or withdrawals on bank and credit card statements
  • Accusations for crimes you didn’t commit
  • Violations on your driving record
  • Communications from employers you don’t recognize

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

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.

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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 America’s #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, he 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 it’s 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 don’t need it by law.”

The lesson here: Always ask if your SSN is actually needed.

How To Avoid Losing Your Social Security Number

What Happens if Your Social Security Number Gets Stolen ...

Social Security numbers rarely get stolen from home. Most are stolen in bulk, explains Steinberg, like stealing employee records. Or as part of a large corporate breach as was the case with Capital One in July. Unfortunately, thats out of your control. But theres still plenty you can do to keep your personal information safe.

Read Also: How Can I Lock My Social Security Number

How To Report Fraud

Do you suspect someone of committing fraud, waste, or abuse against Social Security? You can contact the Office of the Inspector Generals fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 or submit a report online at .

If you receive a suspicious call from someone alleging to be from Social Security, hang up, and then report details of the call to the Office of the Inspector General at .

Our investigations are most successful when you provide as much information as possible about the alleged suspect and/or victim involved. The more you can tell us, the better chance we have of determining whether a crime has been committed. As you fill out a fraud allegation, please include the following about the alleged suspect and/or victim:

  • Names.

Its helpful to know facts about the alleged fraud, such as:

  • Description of the fraud.
  • Location where the fraud took place.
  • When the fraud took place.
  • How the fraud was committed.
  • Why the person committed the fraud .
  • Who else has knowledge of the potential violation.

OIG will carefully review your allegation and take appropriate action. However, they cannot provide information regarding the actions taken on any reported allegation. Federal regulations prohibit the disclosure of information contained in law enforcement records, even to the individual making the allegation.

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 .

Also Check: How To Fill Out The Social Security Application

Checking Your Credit Score

The most common way to catch unauthorized activity is by checking your credit information. If an account appears that you did not initiate, someone is using your Social Security number.

You can check your credit score using a third-party service like or check with your credit card company to see if they have such a feature.

If youre applying for a new line of credit and get turned down, this could mean that there are fraudulent accounts or activities that are affecting your credit score.

Everyones Social Security Number Has Been Compromised Heres How To Protect Yourself

What To Do If Your Social Security Number is Stolen

All of our SSNs have been compromised, say experts.

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Every day, it seems, another data security disaster puts our personal information at risk. If its not a major hotel or restaurant chain getting hacked, its a financial institution.

Following breaches at Capital One, Equifax and a slew of other financial and healthcare organizations, theres little doubt that your social security number has been compromised, say cybersecurity experts. Not just yours. Mine, too, as well as those of our spouses, neighbors, friends and colleagues.

Your social security number is somewhere out there on the dark web, says Charles Henderson, who heads up X-Force Red, a team of hackers at IBM Security that companies hire to break into their computer systems to expose vulnerabilities.

It’s totally reasonable to assume that your social security number has been compromised at least once, if not many times, says Mike Chapple, associate teaching professor of information technology, analytics and operations at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.

A compromised social security number is much more problematic than when other types of personal data hacked. If your credit card number is stolen, your bank can issue a new one within days. If your passport or driver’s license is stolen, you can get a replacement issued with brand new numbers.

With Marriott and the other hotel breaches, all of those credit cards got revoked and re-issued, points out Henderson.

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If You Have Been Victim Of Fraud

You can ask for a new SIN only if you can prove that your SIN was used fraudulently.

However, getting a new SIN will not necessarily protect you from fraud or identity theft. If someone else uses your old SIN as identification and the business does not check the person’s identity with the credit bureau, credit lenders may still ask you to pay the impostor’s debts. Each time, you will have to prove that you were not involved in the fraud.

If we issue you a new SIN, you will need to contact all your financial institutions, creditors, pension providers and employers to ask them to update your files.

Note: Service Canada cannot correct a credit file. It is up to you to contact your financial institution, report any discrepancies and have them resolved.

If you have proof that someone else is using your SIN, an investigation is required.

An indication that your SIN is being used fraudulently is when you receive a Notice of Reassessment from the Canada Revenue Agency concerning undeclared earnings. This means that another person has used your SIN for employment purposes or to receive other taxable income.

You must visit your nearest Service Canada Centre with your original proof of identity documents and provide proof that another person has used your SIN.

Here’s what you will need to provide to Service Canada if you suspect someone is using your SIN:

Place A Security Freeze

Federal law allows;consumers to place and lift;a security freeze on their credit reports for free. A security freeze prohibits a credit reporting agency from releasing any information from a consumers’ credit report without written authorization. Note: placing a security freeze on your credit report may delay, interfere with, or prevent the timely approval of any requests you make for new loans, credit, mortgages, employment, housing or other services.

Freezing a minor’s credit file:

Federal law also now allows;parents, guardians, and representatives acting on behalf of a young person in foster care, to freeze a minor child’s credit report. In this instance, a minor;is someone 16 years old or younger.;

If the child does not have a credit report , parents and guardians may request that;the credit reporting agency create a;credit report for the child in order to freeze it.;

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Why You Need A Social Security Number

If youre unsure what an SSN is, the Social Security Administration loosely defines it as a nine-digit number for identity-tracking purposes. Whenever you start a new job or apply for government benefits, you need your Social Security number: it will be used to verify your identity and record earnings. You can locate your Social Security number on your Social Security card if you cant find your card, make sure you reach out to the Social Security Administration directly.

Freeze Your Childs Credit Report

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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 child’s 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.

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Visit Identitytheftgov To Get A Recovery Plan

You can visit IdentityTheft.gov to report identity theft and, more importantly, set up a recovery plan, or you can call 877-438-4338 to do so. Both will guide you through a process that includes:

  • Placing a fraud alert and obtaining your credit reports
  • Reporting the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission
  • Filing a report with your local police department
  • S To Recover From Social Security Fraud:

    • If a company responsible for exposing your information offers free credit monitoring, take advantage of it as soon as possible
    • Head over to annualcreditreport.com to obtain your free credit reports and check for any accounts and/or charges you dont recognize
    • Consider placing a freeze on your credit. An unknown party will have difficulties opening new accounts with a credit freeze in place
    • File your taxes as early as possible before a scam artist does it for you. Tax identity theft occurs when someone uses your SSN to get a tax refund or even acquire a job
    • Distrust;anyone who calls to say youll be arrested unless you pay for taxes or debt even if they say they are from the IRS and provide all, or part of your SSN
    • Continue to monitor your credit report as closely as possible

    If youve done all you can to fix the problems resulting from the misuse of your Social Security number, and someone is still using your number,;the Social Security Administration may assign you a new number.;Keep in mind that a new number likely;wont solve all your problems. This is because other governmental agencies and private businesses will have records under your old number.

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    Get A Social Security Statement

    The Social Security Administration maintains an online service that lets you find out what you have paid into Social Security, how many hours of work your employers have reported each quarter, and what your expected benefits would be if you were to retire or go on disability in the near future.

    You may think that would be wonderful since the worker reporting hours to your Social Security account is moving you closer to vesting your Social Security benefit, but in fact, you can have your expected Social Security payments greatly reduced if someone is reporting low-wage labor to your account. So you want to clear up any double-dipping of your Social Security account.

    Requesting your statement is straightforward. You will need to create a my Social Security account if you dont already have one. You can access the sign-in/account creation page here. Once logged in, you can request a Social Security statement to print out from your account. If you prefer a low-tech approach, you can fill out a request form and mail it in, and get a statement mailed to you in 4 to 6 weeks.

    What Is Child Identity Theft

    If Asked For Social Security Number, Keep These 3 Things In Mind

    Child identity theft happens when someone takes a childs sensitive personal information and uses it to get services or benefits, or to commit fraud. They might use your childs Social Security number, name and address, or date of birth. They could use the stolen information to

    • apply for government benefits, like health care coverage or nutrition assistance
    • open a bank or credit card account
    • apply for a loan
    • sign up for a utility service, like water or electricity
    • rent a place to live

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    Request For A Credit Freeze

    Your original social security number card is rarely needed physically anywhere. This may benefit you because the chances of the card getting lost decrease to a high extent. But if you do lose it somehow, the same benefit may turn against you because the thief just needs to remember your SSN to avail all the benefits.

    That is why you need to request a credit freeze immediately after you feel suspicious about the social security number theft.

    You just need to contact the three major credit reporting agencies, that are, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion and put a credit freeze on your credit reports.

    Once you successfully do this, the thief wont be able to avail the advantages that you are the rightful owner of.

    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.

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