Commit Crimes In Your Name
One of the most dangerous consequences of social security number theft is having crimes committed using your identifiers. If someone is arrested and produces your information to law enforcement, you become entangled in their criminal activity. This could have a significant impact on your ability to get a job, a loan, or even rent an apartment.;
How Your Social Security Number Can Be Stolen
There are various ways your Social Security number could fall into the wrong hands. The most notorious one is the data breach, like the massive Equifax incident last year.
Be extra careful about jotting down your Social Security number or leaving it in paper forms, thieves sometimes rummage through trash looking for receipts, credit card bills and, of course, Social Security numbers they can use. Make sure you shred your documents and paperwork when you throw them away.
How Do You Protect Yourself
The single best thing to do is to put a freeze on your credit files, which will prevent anyone from opening a new account. It’s free to place a freeze and to lift it for your own needs. But you have to contact each of the three major credit bureaus individually, which you can do online. Cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs also suggests freezing the credit files maintained by a handful of smaller, specialized agencies. You should also check your credit score regularly, which is a good way to detect fraud after it happens.
, which typically carry a monthly fee, can also help reveal the work of identity thieves. They provide tools to prevent you from phishing and other forms of hacking combined with scanning services that look for your Social Security number or email address in places online where it doesn’t belong.
T-Mobile is offering two years of McAfee’s monitoring service for free to anyone affected by the breach. It has set up a website suggesting more steps people can take to guard against fraud. Anyone with a smartphone would be wise to take them:
On the plus side, two-factor authentication is becoming the standard online, and that’s improving security across the web. But too many sites encourage you to make that second factor a text message sent to your phone number, which encourages SIM swap fraud. Wherever possible, use an authentication app instead.
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Consider An Identity Protection Service
You can register with an identity protection service such as LifeLock, IdentityForce, or Identity Guard. Such companies charge fees that typically start around $10 a month. Banks and credit unions also have packages they sell to customers, as do major agencies such as Experian and TransUnion. Many of the best credit monitoring services also offer identity protection tools and services.
Ways An Identity Thief Can Use Your Social Security Number
Having your Social Security number or card stolen isnt quite like getting your bank account information taken though granted, both are stressful experiences. The major difference is that you can get a new bank account number, while the Social Security Administration very rarely issues new Social Security numbers.
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Dont Let Thieves Damage Your Credit Or Disrupt Your Life
- Someone becomes a victim of identity theft every 2 seconds.
- In addition to interfering with your ability to file tax returns, obtain a drivers license, open a bank or credit card account, or buy a home, identity theft can compromise your professional credentials
- Prevention includes safe online practices, freezing credit, stopping junk mail, and protecting your personal information.
Identity theft can disrupt your entire life, including your ability to get a job, file tax returns, obtain a drivers license, and open bank accounts. If youre a nurse, your professional credentials may be compromised.
Identity theft is the unauthorized use of another persons identification for the purpose of committing a crime. The Department of Justice uses the terms identity theft and identity fraud when referring to crimes in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another persons personal data.
Do you put outgoing mail in the mailbox at home with a flag up? Consider this: thieves drive around neighborhoods looking for those mailboxes and steal the mail. They now have all the personal information contained in the mail at their fingertips. And if one of the envelopes contains a check, they can remove all the information except your signature and make out the check to themselves.
To avoid the harm that can occur as a result of identity theft, take preventive steps and know what you can do to ameliorate the damage if it happens.
How Can I Protect My Identity
Protect your personal information. That helps you protect your identity.; Here are some things you can do:
- At home:
- keep your financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards in a safe place
- shred papers that have your personal or medical information
- take mail out of your mailbox as soon as you can
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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
Check Employer Verifications At My E
You can also check for the names of employers who have verified your eligibility to work in the U.S. if they went through the Department of Homeland Security E-Verify system. To do that, go to the myE-Verify webpage. If you see an employer whose name you do not recognize, someone else may be using your number to work in the U.S. The site also has a self-lock feature that lets you place a lock on your SSN.
The Equifax Hack Released The Private Information Of Tens Of Millions Of People Into The Hands Of Criminals
Now what happens to it?
The Equifax breach included names, Social Security numbers and home addresses. Those are valuable details for criminals who want to drain bank accounts or commit tax fraud.
In fact, it’s common for criminals to buy this kind of information.
It’s sometimes stolen on a much smaller scale, and the public never hears about it. Other cases, like hacks at health insurer Anthem and the federal Office of Personnel Management, face a lot of public scrutiny.
“This is something that’s been really a focus of cybercriminals for quite some time now,” said Roman Sannikov, director of Eastern European research and analysis at security firm Flashpoint. During the housing boom last decade, he recalled, criminals used “personally identifiable information” from data breaches to take out fraudulent mortgages.
Criminals sell stolen personal data on the dark web via sites accessed through special software called Tor, which are not readily accessible for most users of the Web. These websites specialize in facilitating an illicit economy, from drugs to stolen identities. Law enforcement recently shut down two of these websites — Hansa and AlphaBay — but lesser-known sites are still active.
Researchers have not seen Equifax-specific data circulating on the dark web yet or an uptick in social security numbers for sale. But there’s already a thriving ecosystem built around buying and selling human identities.
File A Complaint With The Ftc
You can file a complaint with the FTC using the FTC’s online complaint form;or by calling 1-877-ID-THEFT . By sharing your identity theft complaint with the FTC, you will provide important information that can help law enforcement officials across the nation track down identity thieves and stop them. The FTC can refer victims’ complaints to other government agencies and companies for further action, as well as investigate companies for violations of laws the agency enforces.
The printed FTC ID Theft Complaint, in conjunction with the police report, can constitute an Identity Theft Report and entitle you to certain protections. This Identity Theft Report can be used to:
- Permanently block fraudulent information from appearing on your credit report,
- Ensure that debts do not reappear on your credit report,
- Prevent a company from continuing to collect debts that result from identity theft, and
- Place an extended fraud alert on your credit report.
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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.
Consider A Credit Freeze
The strongest protection against new accounts being opened in your name is a credit freeze, also called a security freeze. A freeze means that your file cannot be shared with potential creditors, insurers, employers, or residential landlords without your permission. For more information, see our CIS 10: How to Freeze Your Credit Files.
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Use Identity Theft Protection Services
An identity protection service is beneficial if youre concerned about your private information, including your SSN. They usually charge a small fee to protect you from a lifetime of financial damage.
Our recommended service is Identity Guard. They have a US-based team and sophisticated systems scanning for breaches of your personal info 24/7. They have protected over 47 Million people over 20+ years.;
To further protect you in case youve already given out your personal info, youll get:
- A team monitoring the dark web for people selling your personal information, and alerting you if anything appears.;
- Monitoring of your credit reports
- A personal case manager that can help you recover from any identity theft problems.
Youll even get a $1 million insurance policy and stolen funds reimbursement. This means that your financial situation will remain SAFE EVEN IF fraudsters have your personal information .
What Do I Do If My Social Security Card Or Number Is Stolen Or Lost
If your Social Security card or number is lost or stolen, you should immediately contact your local police department and the Social Security Administration to let them know about the incident. Once youve done that, there are a few other things that you can do to help mitigate the risks involved with losing your Social Security Card.
You Gave Your Social Security Number Away
If you suspect somebody has your Social Security Number — whether they stole it from a company or you gave it to them voluntarily –; it’s important to set up credit monitoring. Typically your bank or the company that was breached will provide this to you for free.
You generally shouldn’t pay for credit monitoring, as high quality free products have proliferated in the marketplace particularly after the incident at Equifax. Paid credit monitoring services can be tricky to cancel, and you can typically achieve the same level of service with a free product.
Set up alerts so you know the instant anything changes with your credit score — you can usually do this through the credit monitoring program offered by your bank or credit card company, which is almost always a free service. Some of these services are free even if you’re not a customer of the bank, such as Capital One’s Credit Wise. In fact, you may want to do this anyway — monitoring your credit in this manner is good for everyone, not just victims of cybercrime.
If you provided a scammer with your Social Security Number directly, or you already think your number was used fraudulently, you will need to act more urgently. You can place a credit freeze on your account with the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Transunion and Experian.
How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft:
- Citizens who take advantage of the FLHSMV automated renewal options, including renewal by phone, mail and the Internet, are reminded to shred or otherwise destroy their old licenses and ID cards when they receive the replacement license or card by mail. This will prevent identity thieves from stealing your personal information.
- Purchase a copy of your driving record annually to see if the FLHSMV shows tickets that were not issued to you just as you would review your credit report for fraudulent activity.
- Do not leave mail in your mailbox overnight, and stop your mail delivery if you are going to be away from home.
- Do not carry extra credit cards, your Social Security card, passport or birth certificate except when absolutely necessary. Install a locked mailbox at your residence or use a post office box to reduce the chance of mail theft.
- Pick up new checks at your bank.
- Do not leave paid bills in your mailbox for the postal carrier to pick up.
- Ask your financial institutions to add extra security protection to your account. Most will allow you to use an additional code when accessing your account.
- Protect your Social Security Number at all costs. Do not let merchants write your SSN on your checks. Request merchants to use other forms of identification.
- Never allow credit card numbers to be written on your checks.
- Do not use your birth date or mothers maiden name as PIN numbers or passwords.
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Things Identity Thieves Can Do With Your Social Security Number
Identity theft is on the minds of many Americans these days. With a number of recent data breaches, consumers are being extra cautious about how and where they share and use personal information.
While the breach of any personal and financial information can wreak havoc on your credit and your life no other personal information is as sensitive as a social security number. Thats why a compromised or stolen social security number can be so devastating.
Your social security number is your main identifier. It enables you to do everything from getting a job, to being paid for said job, and paying your income taxes. Once it has been compromised, it can put you at great risk.
While compromised credit cards and bank accounts can be closed and new accounts reissued, its not quite as simple with a social security number. Getting the Social Security Administration to issue a new social security number is no easy feat either. There are very few circumstances under which new numbers are actually given. Even in cases of identity theft, the SSA generally only issues a new number after all other attempts to remedy the issue have been exhausted. Therefore, it can take years to recover from identity theft when a social security number has been compromised.
Whether And How To Get A New Social Security Number
Many stolen Social Security numbers are used simply to gain employment, with no detrimental effect to the legitimate holders of the SSN. But others are used to defraud banks, retailers, the IRS and other government agencies, which could trash your credit.
If several years pass after the theft of your Social Security number, and the problems arising from the theft have not gotten any better, then you may want to apply for a new SSN. But before you take that step, there are several things to consider.
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