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:
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.
What Can I Do To Protect My Identity
Several unemployment claims related to identity theft are being investigated by unemployment agencies. If you dont want to be part of the list of fraud victims, you have to take the necessary steps to protect your identity.
- You can prevent scammers from fraudulently registering a Social Security account under your name by opening one yourself.
- Protect your Social Security account by adding another layer of protection. Aside from providing your username and password, which is your first layer of security, you can set up your account to require your phone number or email address before you can log in. Add a third layer of security by adding a security question that you must answer to verify your identity.
- Dont bring your Social Security card or any document that contains it unless it is absolutely necessary.
- If someone asks you for your Social Security number, be sure to ask why they need it, how it will be used, and what the consequences are in case you refuse.
2. Register for an unemployment benefits account through your state unemployment agency website. This way, youll be notified in case someone files a claim under your name.
3. Dont open or respond to suspicious or unsolicited texts or emails. Avoid downloading files or any attachments in any email correspondence from a person, group, or company you dont know. Some scammers pose as trustworthy companies as they try to get your personal information.
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.
Why Service Canada Does Not Issue New Social Insurance Numbers For Those Affected By A Data Breach
A new Social Insurance Number is not a fresh start or protection from fraud or identity theft.
If someone else uses your old Social Insurance Number and the business does not check the persons identity, you may have to prove you were not involved in the fraud or pay the impostors debts.
The Government can only share your new Social Insurance Number with the federal departments and agencies that use your Social Insurance Number.
This means that it would be up to you to provide your new Social Insurance Number to all the financial institutions, creditors, pension providers, recent and current employers, and any other organizations with which you shared your old Social Insurance Number.
Not doing or failing to do so properly risks not receiving benefits or leaves the door open to subsequent fraud or identity theft.
A new Social Insurance Number does not erase your old Social Insurance Number. You would therefore need to monitor your accounts and credit reports for both Social Insurance Numbers on a regular and ongoing basis. This would put burden on you. Numerous Social Insurance Numbers multiply the risk of fraud.
The best way to protect yourself if you are affected by a data breach:
You May Like: Where Do You Go To Get New Social Security Card
How Do You Check To See If Someone Stole Your Identity
Maybe youre asking yourself how to check if someone is using my identity? The best way to check for identity theft is by checking your credit report. If anyone has used your SSN to open accounts or obtain credit in your name, then those records will appear on your credit report. If you notice anything on your report that you did not do, then someone likely has your SSN and is using it to conduct fraud. You can also check your Social Security statement to make sure that it is accurate and request a tax transcript from the IRS to make sure that no one has filed false tax returns using your SSN.
How Can Someone Steal My Social Security Number
There are several ways that criminals look to steal peoples social security numbers. For example, thieves have found them by simply searching through trash to find personal documentation. Your social security number could also be at risk in the online sphere, with cybercriminals able to exploit data breaches and then either use your details themselves or sell them on the dark web.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Your Social Security Card Fast
How Do You Put An Alert On Your Social Security Number
If you want to place a fraud alert on your Social Security number, you simply need to contact one of the three credit reporting agencies. Tell them you want to place a fraud alert on your SSN, and they will notify the other two agencies. Make sure the credit bureau has your latest contact information on file because they will need to contact you if anyone attempts to use your SSN. This service is free of charge, and the alert lasts for one year. You should be aware that your Social Security number cannot be suspended. If you receive a call stating such, you should hang up immediately because it is a scam.
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.
Don’t Miss: How Fast To Get Replacement Social Security Card
What Are The Dangers Of Losing My Social Security Card
Scammers will use stolen or highjacked phones and an SSN to access one-time passwords that allow them entry to bank accounts, credit cards, and other sensitive financial information. The thief can use this information to commit account takeover fraud and steal your money and additional personal information. One of the fastest-growing COVID-19-related identity theft crimes is tax fraud and identity theft, whereby thieves file a phony tax return in your name, hoping to snag a refund before you catch on. If your Social Security card is stolen, be sure to report the loss to the Internal Revenue Service. Another recent COVID-19 scam that cruelly exploits job losses involves filing phony unemployment claims using your SSN, birth date, name, or address.
Even if you havent had your Social Security card stolen or lost, you need to remain vigilant for scammers who call you claiming theres a problem with your SSN or account and try to get you to divulge personal information. If theres a legitimate problem with your number or account, the Social Security Administration will mail you a letter with your Social Security number. To learn how to respond to unsolicited robocalls or calls using caller ID spoofing, visit this SSA webpage.
It’s Entirely Up To The Social Security Administration To Decide Whether You Can Get A New Number
If the agency doesn’t think you need a new one, you won’t get one.
If you do decide to get a new Social Security number, the first step is as easy as filling out a standard SSN application form. You’ll enter the old number on it. But be prepared to plead your case, and to have ample documentation to prove it.
Don’t forget that the old Social Security number never completely goes away, even if it goes dormant. The Social Security Administration never invalidates an SSN once it’s been issued.
What Can A Thief Do With Your Social Security Number
Because an SSN is unique to every individual, it is a very useful identification tool. But since its difficult to use on its own, criminals get quite crafty when it comes to using your Social Security number.
In essence, all types of SSN-related identity thefts use the number plus your additional information to bypass identification procedures in social and financial institutions.
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.
Who Typically Uses Caller Id Spoofing
Someone is calling from my number and its not me, so who could it be? The first thing that comes to mind would be scammers. While this may be true, other people could be spoofing phone numbers for a variety of reasons.
So if theres someone else using your phone number, it could be one of the following:
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.
Also Check: How To Live On Social Security Only
Signs That Someone May Be Using Your Social Security Number
Unexpected phone calls or strange letters in the mail can all be signs that someone has taken your Social Security number. There are a few common signs that you should be on the lookout for. The first is sudden calls from creditors. If you know that you don’t owe a particular debt or aren’t late on any payments, but you get calls from creditors or collection agencies about unpaid debt, this could be a sign that someone has taken out a credit card using your Social Security number. The second red flag is problems filing your taxes. If you file your tax return with the IRS and receive an error notice that someone has already filed taxes in your name, this can be a sign that your Social Security number was stolen. You might also receive a notice of unreported income when you know that you reported every cent you earned. Finally, a lower-than-expected credit score can signal trouble. If you’re rejected for a credit card application and know that you have good credit, this can also be a sign that someone is using credit cards in your name and lowering your credit score.
You Got A Sextortion Email
Don’t believe it. There are few things in this life that I will claim to know for certain, but this is one: Nobody has secretly recorded you watching pornography over your webcam. I mean it. They haven’t. And they’re not contacting your spouse about it.
If you get an email asserting that somebody has done this — even if it has your email address and password in the subject line — it’s a scam. Criminals get your passwords and other private information from darkweb fire sales of personal information. This information can’t really be used for much, other than to convince you that they somehow know who you are.
If you already paid money to the person on the other end of one of these emails, contact your bank to attempt to reverse the transaction.
You can report this to the FBI or local police as well, and while it is helpful for their ability to track these types of crimes, there is little they can do to get your money back. Just be aware that billions of these emails are hitting inboxes daily and there’s no need to panic.
You May Like: Can I Collect Social Security At 55
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 If Someone Steals My Social Security Number
All of this is of course very interesting, but lets bring it back to the point of this article: what if some bad guy steals, obtains, guesses at, or otherwise gets hold of your Social Security Number? As it happens, all kinds of bad things!
Because you have to have a Social Security Number to get a job in the United States , crooks are very fond of stealing SSNs specifically for the purpose of selling them to people who do not already have permission to work in the United States, so that those people can get a job.
Nothing is wrong with people getting jobs, of course, but if they are using your Social Security Number, it can cause untold confusion and issues with your taxes and your Social Security benefits. You could even LOSE your Social Security benefits and that can be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As you can see, it is very important for you to be able to tell whether someone is using your Social Security Number without your permission. In this article, I will show you several methods of detecting whether your Social Security Number has been compromised.
Read Also: Where Do I Replace My Social Security Card
Things Identity Thieves Could Use Your Ssn For
Commit Crimes Using Your Name
Dont have a criminal history? Well, you could end up with one if a real criminal gives your social security number to the police. If they have your SSN, they could falsely assume your identity so the police dont find out about their past crimes. Having a crime appear on your background check could impact your chances at getting a job and purchasing a home.
Get Loans and Credit Cards In Your Name
Having someone get loans and credit cards in your name is financial suicide! They can purchase whatever they want without paying for it. Youll end up with the bill, and since you likely cant pay the fraudulent charges off, your credit score will be negatively impacted.
File A Fake Tax Refund/Return
An identity thief with your SSN could assume your identity and claim a pending tax refund you have. These criminals try to beat their victims to the punch by claiming the return early on in tax season. Victims will typically find this out when their tax refund is denied multiple times.
Medical Care and Insurance Theft
If someone has your social security information, they could claim to be you and use your health insurance to receive medical care. However, this is way deadlier than you may think. If there are medical records on file about the criminal , it could lead to a medical mix-up down the road when you need care. And not to mention the expensive medical bills youll be left to pay!
Steal Your Social Security Benefits