Monday, May 16, 2022

What To Do When Social Security Number Has Been Compromised

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What To Do If Your Social Security Card Was Lost Or Stolen

Social Security Numbers compromised

If your card is lost or stolen, then you need to act immediately to help protect yourself. As soon as you recognize that your card was stolen, you should file a report with your local police department. Notify the authorities so that they can begin working on finding the culprit, and that police report also serves as proof that your card really was stolen in case you need to work on repairing your credit later. A stolen Social Security card is typically more likely to cause you problems down the road, but a lost card can cause issues too. If you simply lost or misplaced your card, then you can skip this step and move on to the next one.

In addition to the police, you will want to go ahead and notify the Social Security Administration that your card is lost or stolen. You should go ahead and register for your MySocialSecurity account at SSA.gov also. This online portal allows you to request a replacement card, view your earnings statements, estimate your future benefits, and many more things. Make sure that you claim your account so that whoever has your SS card cannot claim it fraudulently.

How Do I See If Someone Is Using My Social Security Number

Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether someone has your Social Security number until they use it. Some companies offer dark web monitoring, which tracks your information across areas of the internet typically reserved for criminal activities. Your information often ends up on the dark web if you are the victim of a data breach.

However, even if your information appears on a dark web scan, there’s no way to guarantee that someone has your SSN specifically or that they are using it.

To check to see if someone is using your SSN, consider checking your credit report. You can do this online through AnnualCreditReport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports. You can also use the Annual Credit Report phone number to request your credit report.

Once you have your credit report, review it to see if anything is out of the ordinary. Carefully confirm your accounts and open lines of credit to make sure all of the information in these sections is legitimate. If not, someone may be fraudulently using your information.

Lastly, you may also want to view your Social Security Statement. This document will show whether someone has begun withdrawing against your Social Security account earnings, which is another tell-tale indicator that someone is using your SSN.

What Can A Thief Do With My Social Security Number

There are numerous things that a thief can do with your SSN, and none of them are good. One of the most common things that happen when someone is using your Social Security number is opening credit accounts in your name. They might get credit cards, bank accounts, or loans in your name and use them to purchase items. A thief might even use your SSN to file a fraudulent tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. Taking this action could allow them to receive a large tax refund, and then you might be on the hook later for the fraudulent return.

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If You Suspect Someone Is Using Your Sin

If you think someone else is using your SIN, act quickly. This will help prevent loss and minimize the negative impact.

Be vigilant Watch for signs that someone else is using your SIN. For example, ifCRA contacts you with a Notice of Reassessment for undeclared earnings, it may mean that someone else used your SIN to work or to receive other taxable income.

Why Do Phone Companies Want Your Social Security Number

How To Know If Your Social Security Number Has Been ...

Because its the easiest way to check your credit rating. Companies like AT& T and T-Mobile want to know if you have a record of paying your bills on time before agreeing to provide you an account or to sell you a phone in monthly installments. And the major credit rating agencies use Social Security numbers to match people to their credit histories.

The SSN is the only unique universal identifier across the entire population, explained Francis Creighton of the Consumer Data Industry Assn., which represents the credit agencies. Theres nothing else that can replace it in todays market.

Social Security numbers also help guard against people setting up fraudulent credit reports, Creighton said. And while there are ways to establish a credit score that dont rely on your Social Security number, he said, the first step is for a lender or service provider not to ask for it. You cant be compelled by a phone company or other private-sector business to reveal your number, but in California and most other states, the business can refuse to serve you as a result.

Once youve paid off your new phone or switched carriers, though, your mobile company will no longer be filing reports about you to the credit bureaus, Creighton said. Nevertheless, the hackers behind the latest T-Mobile breach were able to steal Social Security numbers for former T-Mobile customers that the company held onto for some reason.

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Can I Change My Social Security Number

Yes. Sort of. The Social Security Administration can assign a new SSN in a limited number of cases. However, per the SSA, When we assign a different Social Security number, we do not destroy the original number. We cross-refer the new number with the original number to make sure the person receives credit for all earnings under both numbers.

In other words, your SSN is effectively forever, which means if its stolen, youre still faced with clearing up any of the malicious activity associated with the theft potentially for quite some time. Thats yet another reason why the protection of your SSN deserves particular attention.

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.

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Is Your Social Security Number At Risk For Identity Theft

Since your Social Security number is used for basically everything from identification to creditworthiness, you could easily become the victim of identity theft if your card falls into the wrong hands. There are steps that you need to take immediately upon recognizing that your card has been compromised.

What Do I Do If My Social Security Card Or Number Is Stolen Or Lost

Group of high school students’ social security numbers compromised

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.

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They Can Use Your Ssn To Get A Drivers License In Your Name

When asked for a photo identity, you are likely to whip out your drivers license. It is accepted as proof of who you are, where you live and how old you are. So if an identity thief is able to obtain a drivers license in your name, it opens many fraudulent doors.

To get a drivers license, you generally have to pass a written test, a driving test and an eye exam, and provide your name, address and SSN. A hacker might be able to get a drivers license in your name without you even knowing it.

Pro tip: If you believe that your name and Social Security number were used to obtain a fraudulent drivers license, immediately contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles. Warning signs could be traffic tickets issued in states you have never visited or warrants for your arrest you know nothing about.

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 .

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Social Security Combats Fraud

Social Security has zero tolerance for fraud. We diligently work at the national, regional, and local level to combat fraud that undermines our mission to serve the American public.

To meet this challenge, we work closely with the OIG who investigates allegations of fraud and seek to bring offenders to justice. They refer cases to U.S. attorneys within the Department of Justice, among other state and local prosecuting authorities, for prosecution as a federal crime.

Visit our OIGs Investigations page to view a list of recent fraud investigations.

They Can Use Your Ssn To Claim Your Tax Refund

What To Do If Your Social Security Number Has Been Stolen ...

In 2020, nearly 170 million people filed tax returns for tax year 2019, including traditional non-filers who submitted information to get their economic impact payments. That year, the Internal Revenue Service issued nearly 126 million refunds, accounting for about 74% of all filers. The average refund was $2,549.

So, imagine the shock if rather than that long-awaited check you instead received notice that someone else already filed a return in your name and received your tax refund.

This can happen if a scammer gets your name and SSN and simply files a return in your name. While your best bet is to keep your SSN private, both the IRS and Federal Trade Commission can assist you if this happens.

Pro tip: There are many things you can do to help protect your tax refund. Learn to recognize phishing emails seeking your personal information and calls from scammers posing as your bank, credit card company or the IRS. No bank, taxing authority or responsible business typically asks for your SSN online. Treat any such request as a scam.

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Stay Vigilant To Help Protect Your Personal Information

If your Social Security number and personal information fall into the wrong hands, it could take you months to undo the damage. Monitoring your credit helps prevent the likelihood of this happening. The sooner you catch fraudulent activity, the easier it can be to reverse.

However, if you find that someone is using your SSN, it’s possible to remove the activity from your credit file. Filing reports with the proper authorities can help reverse the impact of someone stealing your personal information.

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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.

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How To Know If Your Social Security Number Has Been Stolen

People often find out their Social Security number has been stolen when they go to open an account or file their taxes and find out someone else has already done so using their name. However, other warning signs someone has stolen your SSN include:

  • Getting mail in someone elses name
  • Receiving debt collection calls when you havent defaulted on anything
  • Receiving new credit or debit cards in the mail you didnt request

One of the best ways you can make sure no one has stolen your SSN is to keep an eye on your credit report. Regularly checking your credit report and bank accounts can ensure you catch that something may be amiss as soon as possible. If you see an error or an account you dont recognize, make sure to follow up with the financial institution. It may just be an errorwhich will need to be addressed anywaybut its better to be safe than sorry.

What To Do When Your Social Media Account Has Been Hacked

Scam alert: your social security number is not suspended

Weve all seen it. Youre scrolling through social media and suddenly someone youve followed for some time is consistently posting spam about a pair of knockoff sunglasses, accompanied by a link. Sometimes they show up in your feed, other times in your messages, but it never seems to go away until the account is reported.

More often than not, such spam ads are a sign that an account has been hacked.

But have you ever thought about what to do if it happens to you?

Luckily social media has some protocols in place for this situation. Lets dive in.

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Your Social Security Card

Whether youve lost your social security card or someone an acquaintance used the number, this is another common way that someone has obtained this information. Keeping your social security card safe, not keeping it in your wallet, and making sure that no one can get to it is another way to protect your identity.

How Does A Port Out Scam Work

This scam has a lot in common with identity theft. Someone with your personal information pretends to be you, asking your cellular carrier to move your phone number to a new phone. The cellular carrier will ask them to provide some personal information to identify themselves, but often providing your social security number is good enough. In a perfect world, your social security number would be privatebut, as weve seen, many Americans social security numbers have leaked in breaches of many big businesses.

If the person can successfully fool your cellular carrier, the switch takes place and any SMS messages sent to you and phone calls intended for you will be routed to their phone. Your phone number is associated with their phone, and your current phone wont have phone call, texting, or data service anymore.

This is really just another variation of a social engineering attack. Someone calls a company pretending to be someone else and uses social engineering to gain access to something they shouldnt have. Like other companies, cellular carriers want things to be as easy as possible for legitimate customers, so their security may not be tight enough to fend off all attackers.

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How Does Social Security Identity Theft Happen

There are several ways an SSN can end up with a thief. Some involve physical theft, and others can take the digital route. To what extent are SSNs at risk? Notably, there was the Equifax breach of 2017, which exposed some 147 million SSNs. Yet just because an SSN has been potentially exposed does not mean that an identity crime has been committed with it.

So, lets start with the basics: how do SSNs get stolen or exposed?

Thats quite the list. Broadly speaking, the examples above give good reasons for keeping your SSN as private and secure as possible. With that, its helpful to know that there are only a handful of situations where your SSN is required for legitimate purposes, which can help you can make decisions about how and when to give it out. The list of required cases is relatively short, such as:

  • When applying for credit or a loan.
  • Transactions that require IRS notification, like working with investment firms, real estate purchases, auto purchases, etc.
  • Registering with a business as a full-time or contract employee .

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