How To Report Identity Theft To Social Security In Three Steps
Lets say you spot something unusual on your credit report or get a notification that someone has filed a tax return on your behalf without your knowledge. These are possible signs that your identity, if not your SSN, is in jeopardy, which means its time to act right away using the steps below:
1. Report the theft to local and federal authorities.
File a police report and a Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Report. This will help in case someone uses your Social Security number to commit fraud, since it will provide a legal record of the theft. The FTC can also assist by guiding you through the identity theft recovery process as well. Their site really is an excellent resource.
2. Contact the businesses involved.
Get in touch with the fraud department at each of the businesses where you suspect theft has taken place, let them know of your situation, and follow the steps they provide. With your police and FTC reports, you will already have a couple of vital pieces of information that can help you clear your name.
3. Reach the Social Security Administration and the IRS.
How To Protect Your Social Security Number: 10 Ssn Tips
If you want to help protect yourself against identity theft, protecting your Social Security number is a good start. Your Social Security number is a high-value target for ID theft. Getting an identity theft protection plan is one step to consider.
Your Social Security number, or SSN, is a key piece of personally identifiable information. In the wrong hands like, in the hands of an identity thief your Social Security number might lead to various types of identity theft or fraud.
What can identity thieves do with your Social Security number? Heres a sample:
- Open bank accounts
- Open new credit cards or lines of credit to make purchases in your name
- File tax returns to obtain your refund
- Open new service accounts in your name, such as utilities or internet service
- Put you in major debt
- Destroy your credit score across all three credit bureaus
The Equifax data breach in 2017, which exposed Social Security numbers and other U.S.-consumer information, raised the risk for identity theft of more than 145 million Americans.
Although you cant do anything about a breach, its a good idea to learn what you can do to protect yourself following a breach, and before a subsequent breach. No matter how big or small, no business or industry is immune to cyberthieves who may have identity theft in mind.
Here are some tips for protecting your Social Security number and identity.
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.
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Whats The Worst Thing Someone Can Do With Your Social Security Number
Thieves can then sell your identity or appear to be you in order to open accounts in your name, obtain medical treatment, file false tax returns, or, in the worst-case scenario, conduct crimes. They may even use your Social Security number as their own when committing these offenses.
The best way to prevent this from happening is by not giving out your number in the first place. But if you already gave out your number and now it has been compromised, there are some things that can be done about it. The first thing you should do is notify the various companies that were involved in this incident of what has happened. They will then take appropriate steps to protect you and yourself from further harm. For example, your bank may change your number so it does not get used again, or they may simply warn potential creditors to stop calling you.
It is also important to remember that your number cannot be changed unless you report it lost or stolen. This is why it is essential to keep your number safe and only give it out to people you know and trust.
Finally, if you are a victim of social security fraud, you have the right to receive compensation. There are several agencies that work with social security claimants who have been victimized by crime. These agencies can help you seek restitution from those responsible for your loss.
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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How To Protect Your Social Security Card Moving Forward
In general, these are some best practices to protect yourself from identity theft, particularly regarding your SS card and your SSN number:
- Create a My Social Security account. First, create a My Social Security account on the SSA website to prevent others from doing the same if they have your SSN. Aside from choosing a strong username and password, you can strengthen this account by using your cell phone, email, or a financial question for verification. That means youll either use the last eight digits of your credit card , W-2 info, or info from your 1040 Schedule SE tax form. To add extra security:
- Log on to My Social Security.
TIP: One identity theft protection service known for its discounts is LifeLock, which you can read about in our LifeLock review. Learn more about LifeLocks Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals or LifeLocks free trial.
When You Don’t Have To Provide Your Sin
Some private-sector organizations may ask for your SIN. This practice is strongly discouraged, but it is not illegal.
Here are examples of when you don’t have to give your SIN:
- proving your identity
- completing a job application before you get the job
- completing an application to rent a property
- negotiating a lease with a landlord
- completing a credit card application
- cashing a cheque
- applying to a university or college
What Do I Do Next Ongoing Steps To Take
As weve talked about in some of my other blog posts, identity theft can be a long-term problem where follow-up instances of theft can crop up over time. However, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the damage and ensure it doesnt happen again. I cover several of those steps in detail in this blog here, yet lets take a look at a few of the top items as they relate to SSN theft:
Consider placing a fraud alert.
Look into an all-out credit freeze.
A full credit freeze is in place until you lift it and will prohibit creditors from pulling your credit report altogether. This can help stop thieves dead in their tracks since approving credit requires pulling a report. However, this applies to legitimate inquires, including any that you make, like opening a new loan or signing up for a credit card. If thats the case, youll need to take extra steps as directed by the particular institution or lender. Unlike the fraud alert, youll need to notify each of the three major credit bureaus when you want the freeze lifted.
Monitor your credit reports.
Once every 12 months, you can access a free credit report from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Doing so will allow you to spot any future discrepancies and offer you options for correcting them.
Sign up for an identity protection service.
Accessing Your Personal Information
If you live in Canada, the Privacy Act gives you the right to access and correct personal information about yourself that is held by federal government organizations. This means you can ask for information about your SIN record.
To request copies of SIN application forms you have previously submitted:
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If You Find That You Need To Replace Your Number Here Are Some Things You Must Consider:
- Getting a new Social Security number isnt easy. For starters, you have to prove that the theft of your number has caused you legal problems, bad credit, or denied loans.
- Having a new number doesnt automatically mean that your problems will just disappear. Your old number will continue to remain valid so youll have to continue monitoring it.
- A new Social Security number is like starting out with no credit at all, so youll have to work hard to build it again.
- The decision is completely up to the Social Security Administration. Even if you meet all of the above criteria, your application could be still be rejected.
If your case becomes so severe that you decide a new number is the only way you can solve the problem, then you will need to apply for a new number.
Tip : Create Strong Passwords
Strong passwords that use a unique combination of numbers, letters, and symbols can help prevent identity thieves from accessing your personal information in online accounts. Heres one password you should never use: your Social Security number. And dont use your SSNs last four digits as a PIN.
Finally, dont use the same passwords repeatedly. Even if its a strong password, and its one that you can easily remember, all a hacker has to do is crack that password once. The thief will then be able to access all your important accounts that are protected by that password, even ones that contain your Social Security number.
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Notify Your Financial Institutions
Just as you would if you lost your physical wallet, contact your bank and credit-card companies about any financial accounts that autofill when you make a purchase or that you have saved on e-commerce sites. You can freeze your debit and credit cards and let your financial institutions know about the possibility of suspicious activity.
In the meantime, you should also keep track of your account activity by checking it online every couple of days after your laptop goes missing. If personal information such as tax returns, bank account numbers or Social Security numbers are on the stolen laptop, then consider freezing your credit records.
How Thieves Can Profit From Your Social Security Card
That being said, if your SS card has fallen into the wrong hands, you may be at risk of identity theft. Thieves can use your SSN to:
- Apply for credit in your name and then not pay the bills, which can damage your credit score1
- Apply for jobs
- West Virginia
If you live in any of the above states, go to the next section .
NOTE: Was your drivers license or ID card issued by a U.S. territory like American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands? If so, you cant request a new SS card online you must do it either over the phone or in person.
If you live in an eligible state, there are a few more requirements to request a new SS card online:
- You are a U.S. citizen age 18 or older.
- You have a U.S. mailing address, which includes APO, FPO, and DPO addresses.
- You arent requesting any changes to the card, just a new card.
- Your drivers license or state identification card is from one of the 50 U.S. states or Washington, D.C.
After you request a new card, you should get a replacement within 10 to 14 days.4
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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:
Tip : Keep Your Social Security Card And Number In A Safe Place
Anything as important as your Social Security card deserves a home. This could be a lock box or a file folder kept in a secure place. And dont forget, your SSN may appear on important documents. They require a safe place, too.
Dont make the mistake of carrying your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. If you lose these items, or if theyre stolen, youve put your SSN at risk. A thief might consider it quite a bonus to get your Social Security number when they snatch your wallet or purse.
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Prevent Or Curtail Further Identity Theft Abuses By Contacting The Following Agencies
An identity thief may use your personal identifying information to fraudulently obtain a driver’s license, file for bankruptcy, apply for social security benefits or even get a passport. To head off such possibilities, contact the following agencies and follow their procedures to limit the damage an identity thief can do.
You Wired Money To A Scammer
In a typical wire fraud scam, a criminal breaks into the email of someone who you know, usually professionally — an attorney, realtor or business associate. He or she squats on the email until he or she knows how you interact with this person, and then strikes, sending you a message — usually an urgent one — convincing you to wire money to an unfamiliar bank account, in order to facilitate a legal matter, home transaction or vendor payment.
Usually, the bank account is offshore. Because the transaction involves email fraud, your bank won’t reimburse you. It’s a more involved type of cybercrime and for a good reason — because criminals get money wired directly to their accounts, and often very large sums.
Drop everything and call your bank. If you have fallen victim to this type of crime, drop everything you’re doing and contact your bank’s wire department to attempt to halt the wire. If you are successful, this can save you enormous headaches later. If you know the real identity of the receiving bank, you can attempt to contact its wire department as well, although the fraudster’s bank is usually overseas and may be more difficult to reach.
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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.
Report Your Social Security Number Stolen
If you carried your Social Security card in your walletwhich by the way, you should NEVER doyou’ll want to be extra vigilant. The Social Security Administration can send you a new card, but you won’t get a new number. That means you will want to take every precaution to avoid having your identity stolen.
In this case, an identity protection product like Experian IdentityWorks is vital to keep an eye on any inquiries or new accounts on your credit report that you don’t recognize. You should also call the IRS Identity Protection Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
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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.