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. Its 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 doesnt belong.
T-Mobile is offering two years of McAfees 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 thats 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.
Social Security Number Misuse
Sometimes more than one person uses the same Social Security number, either on purpose or not. You should let us know if someone is using a Social Security number that belongs to someone else.
Also, the Social Security card should not be used as an identification card.Because the Social Security card doesn’t have a photograph, other records are more reliable when identification is needed, such as cashing checks.
It is against the law to use someone else’s Social Security numberor to give false information when applying for a number. Also, it is illegal to alter, buy, or sell Social Security cards. Anyone convicted of these crimes is subject to stiff fines and/or imprisonment.
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:
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How To Find Out If Your Social Security Number Has Been Stolen
Thieves can operate under your identity for years without discovery, and some of these crimes are very difficult to detect. One of the best things you can do is regularly check a free credit report. Review your credit report thoroughly for unauthorized accounts or public records not related to you. These red flags could indicate clerical errors or identity theft. Either way, you want to watch out for it and act as soon as you see something suspicious. You can also check out these other ways you can find out if youre a victim of identity theft.;
Christine DiGangi is the former Deputy Managing Editor – Engagement for Credit.com and covered a variety of personal finance topics. Her writing has beenfeatured on USA Today, MSN, Yahoo! Finance and The New York Times International Weekly, among other outlets. More by Christine DiGangi
is a USA TODAY content partner offering personal finance news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
How Is This Information Purchased By Identity Thieves On The Dark Web
There are three main ways that personal information is commonly bought and sold on the dark web:
Myth Buster:I was the data breach victim many years ago, do I still need to be concerned about my data be sold?
Yes. According to a2017 Javelin strategy and research presentation the amount of fraud committed based on data breach data that is 2-6 years old has increased by nearly 400% over the last 4 years to $3.7B in 2016.
Guess What Selling Social Security Numbers Is Legal
You’re told over and over again to keep your Social Security number safe. Don’t give it out unnecessarily. Don’t keep it in your wallet. Don’t use some of its digits as the personal identification number for your ATM card.
That’s sound advice, but all it does is keep a bad situation from getting worse. Social Security numbers, or SSNs, are in wide circulation today. The Internet speeds up access, but your privacy was cracked even before the Web.
“The SSN horse has been out of the barn for a long time now, but we’ve only just noticed,” says David Medine, the Federal Trade Commission’s associate director for financial practice. “We need a new way of identifying people.”
Believe it or not, it’s legal for private firms to sell, or reveal, Social Security numbers. When Congress passed the Privacy Act of 1974, it restricted the government’s use of SSNs but left the private sector free to use them at will.
Until two years ago, anyone could buy SSNs over the Web. Finally, Congress and the FTC prodded the database industry into limiting public access.
The limitation agreement covers the 14 members of the Individual Reference Services Group, which includes the three major credit bureaus as well as the largest compilers of public records and other personal databases.
Inevitably, some of the people with access will be dishonest or malicious taking SSNs and other personal data for illegal purposes.
It can take years of frustration and expense to get your good name back.
Applying For An Ssn Today
Just as it was in 1936, today a person must complete an application to obtain an original or replacement SSN or to change the information in SSA’s Numident records. There are a number of ways to initiate the application process.
The paper form a person completes to apply for an original SSN or a replacement card or to make changes to SSA’s Numident record is still the SS-5. The SS-5 application is available online14 or in any SSA field office. The application and required evidence can be taken or mailed to any Social Security office for processing. An in-person interview is required if the applicant is age;12 or older and is applying for an original SSN. The Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Manila also accepts SS-5 applications for an original SSN or a replacement card, as do all U.S. Foreign Service posts and all military posts outside the United States. SSA employees key the SS-5 application data and evidence into the SSA computer system, which uses the information to create or update the Numident. The signed SS-5 application is retained for a short period in the field office, and then is sent to a records center in Pennsylvania for microfilming. Once microfilmed, the original SS-5 is destroyed.15
The information currently requested on the SS-5 is:
Constitutional Challenges To Ssn Collection And Dissemination
Constitutional challenges to the collection of social security numbers by government agencies have, for the most part, been unsuccessful. Thus, various courts have held that requiring an SSN on a driver’s license application is constitutional, as is the requirement that persons disclose their SSNs as a condition for receiving welfare benefits or food stamps. In cases where an individual’s SSN is publicly displayed or disseminated, court challenges in recent years have been more successful, particularly where fundamental rights such as the right to vote or the right to free speech are involved. With regard to the display of SSNs in online public records, or in cases involving requests for SSNs under federal or state open records statutes, the courts have attempted to balance the public’s interest in the transparency of government processes with the private individual’s interest in the confidentiality of personal identification and security information.
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.
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Privacy In America: Social Security Numbers
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably given out your Social Security number several times in the past few weeks. Chances are you didn’t even know you had a choice in the matter. And anyway, it’s such a convenient form of identification, you probably didn’t think twice about it.
But you should.
SSNs were originally created to number personal accounts for Social Security, tax collection and benefits payment. But today, SSNs have become a too-common identifier.
An ever-growing number of computer networks let organizations sell, store, transfer and link our personal and business information — usually without our knowledge or consent. It’s become way too easy for government agencies and private organizations to trace each of us, from cradle to grave.
The details of our personal lives belong to us — they’re no one else’s business.
MY NUMBER, MYSELF
Whether you’ve paid taxes, opened a bank account, been accepted for a credit card, joined a gym or a shopping club, or applied for a video rental card, a driver’s license or a mortgage, chances are you’ve been asked for — and given out — your SSN. That seems innocent enough.
But because the SSN is so commonly used as an individual account number, this nine-digit code ends up being a virtual pass key to a vast amount of private, and often sensitive, information about you — your address, medical history, shopping preferences, household income, and use of prescription drugs, to name just a few.
WHO’S GOT YOUR NUMBER;
Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Number Requirements
Collection of Social Security Number is mandated by federal and state law for the purpose of child support collection enforcement; however, state law exempts persons 13 years of age and younger from having to provide a SSN to purchase a license, if they choose. TPWD cannot force persons older than 13 years of age to provide the SSN, but if it is not provided, a license will not be sold. If a license is being purchased for another person, the law requires that the purchaser provide the SSN of the person who will be holding the license.
- What if I refuse to provide my Social Security number?
- TPWD cannot force you to provide your Social Security number, however under federal statute we cannot sell you a license.
- Do I have to provide my child’s Social Security number in order to purchase their license?
- State law exempts persons 13 years of age and younger from having to provide a SSN to purchase a license, if they choose.
- What if I do not have a Social Security number?
- In the rare instance that a U.S. resident does not have a Social Security number, they are asked to fill out a sworn affidavit that no number exists.
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Citizenship And Social Security Numbers
Even though individuals are required to disclose their SSN under many circumstances in dealing with governmental entities, possession of an SSN is not a condition of U.S. citizenship. U.S. citizens are not required to be enumerated at birth.12 This is why regulations issued by the Social Security Administration regarding obtaining an SSN state that “n individual needing a social security number may apply for one by filing a signed form SS-5, ‘Application For A Social Security Number Card,’ … “13 Each individual determines when he or she needs a number based upon federal and state statutes requiring disclosure of an SSN.
In reality, it would be very difficult to work or engage in many activities in this country without an SSN. Virtually all tax matters require the disclosure of one’s SSN,14 as does participation in many government programs, and obtaining a driver’s license. While one may choose not to disclose an SSN in some circumstances, one may have to forgo a benefit. For example, a parent can refuse to provide an SSN for a child on an income tax form, but then the parent cannot claim a tax credit for that dependent child.15
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.
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Restrictions On Governmental Collection And Use Of Ssns
As early as the 1970s, concerns regarding increased uses of the SSN by both government and private entities prompted studies and subsequent congressional action limiting government uses of the SSN. The Social Security Administration created a task force in 1970 to investigate “non-program” uses of the SSN, and the task force’s report the following year stated,
Any examination of SSN policy must begin with the recognition that the number has ceased to be merely a “social security number.” Especially in the past few years, the number has come into increasingly wide use as a numerical identifier throughout society, to the point where the adult American citizen is beginning to need a number to function effectively even if he is among the very small minority of people who never work in covered employment.44
In 1973, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems proposed that an individual whose SSN is requested should be informed as to whether or not divulging his number is legally required; and that no individual should be denied a benefit because of his refusal to divulge his SSN for purposes other than those required by federal law.45
How Social Security Number Theft Occurs
How someone finds out and steals your identity can happen in a variety of ways. They could gain your Social Security number by exploiting data breaches, sifting through the trash for personal documents, or using any number of other approaches. The thieves can then sell your identity to the highest bidder on the dark web.
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Applying For A New Or Replacement Card
If you need to replace a lost Social Security card, change the name shown on your card, or request a new card, just call or visit Social Security. These services are free. You will need to complete a short form and furnish identification.
To get a replacement card, you usually need one identifying document. To change the name on your card, you need documentation that shows your old name and your new name. If you were born outside the United States, you also generally must show proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status. Your replacement card will have the same number as your old card.
For a new card, you will need to provide documents that show your age, citizenship or lawful alien status, and who you are, for example, a birth certificate and a school record. Call Social Security for more examples.
The form to obtain a replacement card is also available for download.
S To Take If You Think Youve Been Scammed
The Social Security Administration publishes a useful booklet called “Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number.” In addition to basic protection tips, it provides information about what you should do if you believe your identity and SSN have been stolen or compromised.
The Social Security Administration closed all of its offices for in-person services in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its online services, however, remain available.
Types Of Social Security Cards
SSA issues three types of Social Security cards. One, the familiar card most people have, has been issued since 1935. It shows the person’s name and Social Security number, and it lets the person work without restriction. SSA issues it to U. S. citizens and permanent resident aliens.
The second type of card bears the legend NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT. SSA issues it to people from other countries who are admitted to the United States on a temporary basis but not for work, and who need a number for other purposes, such as banking. SSA began issuing the third type of card in 1992. It bears the legend VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION. It is issued to people who are admitted to the United States on a temporary basis with Immigration and Naturalization Service employment authorization.