What To Do If Your Social Security Number Is On The Dark Web
Cyber fraud has become an unfortunate reality of day-to-day American society. Criminals nowadays can simply steal your digital information and sell it to the highest bidder on the dark web, which is a hidden portion of the internet not accessible to search engines and only visible using an anonymizing browser known as Tor. If information like your Social Security number somehow ends up on the dark web, there are many nefarious purposes criminals can use it for, so youll have to take steps to protect yourself. Here are just a few of the ways you can help protect your identity and your finances if your Social Security number is on the dark web.
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What To Do If Youve Lost Your Social Security Number
Chances are, you wont need your social security number very often. But when you do need it, its important to have it on hand. If youve lost your social security card or dont know your social security number, there are a few things you can do.
First, try to find your social security card. This is the best way to get your number. If you cant find your card, you can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 . Youll need to verify some personal information before they give you your number.
If you still cant get your social security number, you can request a replacement card from the SSA. Youll need to fill out an application and submit it with proof of identity. The SSA will mail you a new card within 10 business days.
Remember, your social security number is important and should be kept safe. Dont carry your card with you unless absolutely necessary, and dont give out your number unless its absolutely necessary.
Get Monitored Identity Theft Services
With these services, youll be able to have notifications about any suspicious activity regarding your sensitive information. All people should consider identity protection services because they can provide the help necessary if someone has stolen your information. These services monitor your personal information, credit files, and the web for suspicious and fraudulent activity to let you know about it. They also contact banks and creditors on behalf of their clients when theres a need to restore an identity that was violated by fraud or theft.
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To Place A Temporary Fraud Alert On Your Account
Go to the website of any of the three major credit bureaus and select that you want to add a fraud alert.
Note: You only need to do it at one credit bureau. Once you place the fraud alert at any of the three bureaus, they automatically notify the other two.
A temporary fraud alert doesn’t require a reason or any documentation beyond confirming your identity.
Can Someone Access My Bank Account Using My Social Security Number
Although a criminal may be able to steal your social security number and use it to access medical care, benefits and take out new accounts in your name, it is more complex when accessing your existing accounts.
Luckily, identity thieves may find it quite challenging to access your bank accounts with your social security number. Most banks have requirements for additional pieces of identifying information to access your accounts, such as a passport utility bill. Most banks have added layers of security measures to prevent thieves from accessing your accounts, such as security questions and one-time passwords.
However, unfortunately, hackers can find identifying information and personal data to get into your accounts if you do not have the right kinds of protections in place on your computer or mobile device.
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How To Protect Your Sin
To protect your SIN:
- do not carry your SIN in a wallet or pursestore it in a safe place
- never use your SIN as a piece of identification
- only provide your SIN when you know it is legally required
- give your SIN by phone ONLY if you made the call and know that it is legally required
- do not reply to emails that ask for personal information, such as your SIN
- shred paper records that contain your SIN once you no longer need themdo not recycle them
- update the SIN Program with changes to your name or citizenship status, or to indicate if your SIN record is wrong or incomplete
- take action right away to protect your SIN if you suspect someone is using it fraudulently
What Is A Social Security Number For
Your Social Security is a nine-digit number thats a unique identifier for you for government purposes. Its usually assigned upon birth in the United States, but if you had an undocumented birth or your parents didnt ask for a SSN, you may need to request one as an adult.
Your SSN is very important and is required for several things, such as:
- Filing taxes
- Opening credit card and bank accounts
- Getting a passport
- Filing legal documents
Because your SSN is a unique identifier, its usually not possible to be assigned another one. There are some exceptions in extreme cases, such as if youre changing your identity for safety purposes. Its very difficult to get a new SSN, and the approval process is long.
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Request A Credit Freeze
A credit freeze may be inconvenient, but its necessary.
You will need to contact each one of the three major credit bureaus to place the freeze on your credit file its free to do, and it lasts indefinitely until you request to cancel the freeze.
When the freeze goes into effect, no lenders can access your credit file without getting your approval first. While this is effective, it can also be a hindrance if you plan to open a new bank account, move, or buy a car.
You will have to contact the three major credit bureaus to suspend your credit freeze temporarily, complete the transaction , then contact the credit bureaus again to reinstate your credit freeze. Whew!
Requesting a Fraud Alert
In addition to requesting a credit freeze, you can also request a fraud alert with the credit bureaus and this time, you only need to contact one of the three! However, fraud alerts are not quite as effective.
With a fraud alert in place, anyone pulling your credit report is requested to contact you first for approval but theyre not mandated to.
You can renew a fraud alert for free every year, if it helps you gain a bit more peace of mind. If you filed a police report regarding your identity theft, youre eligible to request an extended fraud alert that will last for up to seven years.
Potential Impacts Of Social Security Number Theft
In addition to the physical and emotional stress it imparts, Social Security number theft generates a hefty financial price tag, borne by both individual victims and society as a whole.
The Social Security Administration estimates that it made nearly $8 billion in fraudulent payments in 2019, and the annual cost of fake credit card accounts, fraudulent medical claims, and other misuses of stolen Social Security numbers likely totals in the billions as well.
Thieves use stolen Social Security numbers in a variety of schemes. Click on each of the below accordion items to expand.
With access to your Social Security number, thieves can potentially access your bank and credit accounts, draining them of funds and opening new credit cards in your name to get cash advances or make huge unauthorized purchases. If you notice any unfamiliar or suspicious activity on any of your financial accounts, call your financial institution immediately to have your account frozen. You should also monitor your credit report on a monthly basis to identify potential errors or fraudulent activity.
Thieves can use your Social Security number to open accounts with utilities, including electric, water, gas and sewer services. When these bills go unpaid and wind up in collections, it will be your credit score that suffers the damage.
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Consider Taking The Following Actions
Contact any of the three credit reporting agencies and ask that a free fraud alert be placed on your credit report. Also ask for a free credit report. You only need to contact one of the three agencies because the law requires the agency you call to contact the other two.
Once you have a fraud alert on your credit report place, a business must verify your identity before it issues new credit in your name. The alert remains active for a year and can be renewed by you for up to seven years.
Change the passwords, pin numbers, and log in information for all of your potentially affected accounts, including your email accounts, and any accounts that use the same password, pin, or log in information.
Contact your police department, report the crime and obtain a police report.
Go to the webpage of the Federal Trade Commission, report the ID theft and create an identity theft recovery plan: IdentityTheft.gov
A security freeze is different from a fraud alert. Once your report is frozen, the credit reporting agency cannot release it without your prior express approval . Under federal law, a security freeze is free, and obtaining one will not affect your credit score. To obtain a freeze, you must contact each of the credit reporting agencies and comply with their requirements. The agency must place the freeze within one business day, and if you request the freeze be lifted, they must do so within one hour. Learn more at their websites below:
How Can I Check If My Ssn Was Leaked
Data leaked during breaches usually ends up on the dark web. There are databases online that can scan the web for leaked personal information. Mostly, these include email addresses, which is not a lot.
Surfshark Alert can check the web for leaks of your emails and passwords,Social Security numbers, and It will also continue to monitor your information and will notify you if it finds that any of your data leaked on the web.
Heres how you can check your SSN for leaks with Alert in 6 steps:
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Ways To Determine If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
8 MIN READ
Most of us use the internet every day, so were comfortable sharing a lot of information online. However, cybercriminals want us to get a bit too comfortable so they can take our personal or financial data and use it for their benefit. This is called identity theft, and it can cost people money and may dip their credit score.
Fortunately, you can help minimize what happens by knowing the signs of identity theft and taking fast action when you recognize them. Find out how below.
Getting A New Social Security Number Is Probably Not A Good Idea
Victims of identity theft sometimes want to change their Social Security number. The Social Security Administration very rarely allows this. In fact, there are drawbacks to changing your number. It could result in losing your credit history, your academic records, and your professional degrees. The absence of any credit history under the new SSN would make it difficult for you to get credit, rent an apartment, or open a bank account.
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Get Your Free Credit Reports Regularly
Every American is entitled to view their credit reports from each of the three main agencies annually. This means that you can view one of your credit reports for free every four months. Viewing your reports as often as possible will let you check and see if any new accounts have been opened in your name.
Some credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions also offer free credit monitoring services that will alert you automatically as soon as there are any changes on your credit report, including the opening of new accounts. Having access to one of these services can be an even better solution, as youll receive immediate notifications rather than having to wait four months or longer.
Report Any Fraudulent Activity
Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, criminals will slip through the cracks and manage to open new accounts in your name and/or run up unauthorized charges on your credit cards. In this case, you should contact the card issuer as soon as possible. Youll also want to notify the credit reporting agencies and the IRS as quickly as you can as well. With your Social Security number, criminals can not only make charges in your name but take over your whole identity, even filing a tax return in your name to gain access to your refund. This is one reason why youll need to contact the IRS as soon as you can.
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Self Lock Helps Protect You From Employment
Self Lock is the unique feature that lets you protect your identity in E-Verify and Self Check by placing a “lock” on your Social Security number . This helps prevent anyone else from using your SSN to try to get a job with an E-Verify employer. If an employer enters your locked SSN in E-Verify to confirm employment authorization, it will result in an E-Verify mismatch, called a Tentative Nonconfirmation . With Self Lock, you are always in control – you can unlock your SSN any time a new employer needs to verify your employment authorization in E-Verify. Your Self Lock remains active as long as your account remains valid and you have not unlocked your SSN. The Self Lock feature is only available to myE-Verify account holders.
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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Social Security Identity Theft Faq
What should I do if I believe my Social Security number has been stolen or misused?
If you think someone is using your Social Security,
- Review your Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
- Review your Social Security earnings record for accuracy.
- Visit the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov to report identity theft and get a recovery plan.
- Contact the Federal Internal Revenue Service Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 1-800-908-4490.
- Order a free credit report .
- File a police report.
Note: The Social Security Administration can only resolve Social Security number reporting problems on their own records.
What should I do if I think my name and/or Social Security number is being used to obtain a fake drivers license?
The Michigan Department of State Office of Investigative Services is committed to protecting the integrity of all MDOS programs and documents issued by the agency.
If you witness, suspect or know of fraudulent, improper or suspicious activity involving any MDOS documents or programs, please contact the OIS immediately at:
FRAUD TIP LINE: 844-372-8356
When you contact OIS, provide as much detail as possible. Include your contact information as an investigator may need to contact you for additional information. All reports will be kept confidential.
Take Action If You Are A Victim
There are steps you can take if your Social Security number or other personal information is compromised.
If your Social Security number is compromised and you know or suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, the IRS recommends these actions:
- Respond immediately to any IRS notice: Call the number provided.
- If your e-filed return is rejected because of a duplicate filing under your Social Security number, or if the IRS instructs you to do so, complete IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft AffidavitPDF. Use a fillable form at IRS.gov, print, then attach the form to your return and mail your return according to instructions.
- Visit IdentityTheft.gov for steps you should take right away to protect yourself and your financial accounts.
See Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works for more information about how the IRS can help you.
If you previously contacted the IRS and did not have a resolution, contact us for specialized assistance at . We have teams standing by to help you.
If you believe someone has filed a fraudulent return in your name, you can get a copy of the return. See Instructions for Requesting a Copy of Fraudulent Returns.
Not all data breaches or computer hacks result in tax-related identity theft. Its important to know what type of personal information was stolen.
Assigned an EIN Not Requested
Phishing Emails and Scams
You can report other suspicious online or emailing phishing scams to .
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