What If My Social Security Number Is Stolen
Since the number is connected to many important records about you, having your Social Security number stolen comes with a lot of risk that the thief will use it to harm you financially and even professionally. It’s important that you become aware of the situation quickly so you can take the proper precautions and report the theft to the right organizations. Knowing the signs of SSN theft and common effects will help you gather key information to file your report and recover from the incident. Read on to learn about how SSN theft happens, what problems it can cause and what steps to take to recover and prevent future issues.
Place A Fraud Alert On Your Credit Reports
- Trans Union : 680-7289
Request that your credit report be flagged with a fraud alert and add to your report a statement that you are a victim of fraud and that all creditors should contact you at a phone number you provide to verify all future applications. Each of the major credit bureaus may have different procedures, so ask each one how long the fraud alert will remain on your report and the circumstances under which that period may be extended. You should also request a written copy of your report to review and verify that each piece of credit information is valid.
Placing a fraud alert may not necessarily prevent the fraud from resuming. Some creditors may not see these alerts if they do not obtain your full consumer report, but rather rely on a credit score or another automated credit application system.
Contact The Fraud Department Of Source
If youve been a victim of identity theft, notify the company youve been frauded on and follow their guidance on changing all login and password information. Although, it may be necessary to request a new social security number from the Social Security Administration even though it isnt as easy as it sounds. You first have to follow these steps:
- You will need to provide evidence that your social security number has been used for committing identity theft
- Prove that you suffered harm because of such activities occurring without notification or consent on your part
- Show proof of having done everything possible in order to catch the thief.
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Letters In The Mail From The Irs Or The Bank
The bank will often send you a letter in the mail to confirm certain transactions on your account. Similarly, the IRS might send you letters in the mail related to your tax returns or other activities. If you begin to receive letters from the IRS or your bank, you should take them seriously. If you are unaware of the activity mentioned in the letter, it is likely that someone has used your Social Security number fraudulently. You should read the letter thoroughly, as most of the letters will include instructions for what to do if you did not initiate the activity. Follow the instructions in the letter or contact the IRS or your bank if no instructions are included.
What To Do If Your Social Security Number Is Exposed
If your Social Security number is exposed in a breach or leak, it’s important that you act quickly to prevent identity thieves from doing more damage.
Tip: As you go through this process it’s a good idea to keep documentation of any steps you take, calls you make, forms you fill out, or letters you send. If you have to dispute a fraudulent charge or activity, having these records can help smooth the way by establishing that you’re dealing with an actual identity theft.
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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.
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:
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Report The Theft Right Away
You should first report the theft as soon as possible. You will need to report the theft to a couple of different agencies. Go ahead and contact your local police department to report the theft. More than likely, youll need a police report from your local police department to start the process of getting the fraud removed from your credit report. Youll also need to report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission . You might also need a copy of your FTC report as you start the clean-up process. You can visitidentitytheft.gov to learn more about the reporting process and the steps you should take.
My Ssn Was Stolen What To Do Now
Identity thieves can sell your Social Security Number to people trying to hide their identities, or to undocumented workers.
Even worse, if he has supplemental information, like your full name or home address, that identity thief can steal money, property, even medical coverage from you and the government!
In May 2017, the major credit bureau, Equifax, suffered a significant data security breach that compromised the security of over 147 million peoples personal information.
While identity theft has always been a concern, the Equifax incident left millions of people even more fearful of the possibility of their SSN being stolen.
A data breach is just one way out of many that a thief could obtain your personal information.
Other old school ways they can compromise your privacy is by posing as a fraudulent representative of a trusted organization, going through your mail, or rifling through documents in your trash can. But dont worry!
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Measures You Can Take To Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft happens when a person illegally uses your personal information to commit fraud. Someone illegally using your SSN and assuming your identity can cause a lot of problems. But there are several things you should do to prevent identity theft:
- Do not routinely carry your SSN.
- Never say your SSN aloud in public.
- Beware of phishing scams trying to trick you into revealing personal information.
- Create a personal account to help you keep track of your records and identify any suspicious activity.
- Consider adding these blocks to your account with us:
- The eServices block This prevents anyone, including you, from seeing or changing your personal information on the internet. Once we add the block, you or your representative will need to contact your local office to request removal of the block.
- The Direct Deposit Fraud Prevention block This prevents anyone, including you, from enrolling in direct deposit or changing your address or direct deposit information through or a financial institution . Once we add the block, you or your representative will need to contact your local office to request removal of the block. You will need to do the same to make any future changes to direct deposit or contact information.
What Happens When My Initial Fraud Alert Expires
You can put an extended fraud alert on your credit report. An extended fraud alert is good for seven years.
IdentityTheft.gov helps you place the alert. Contact each credit bureau to ask for an extended fraud alert. You might have to give them a copy of your Identity Theft Report.
If someone stole your identity, act fast. Acting fast can help reduce the damage identity theft can cause.
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Can I Get A New Social Security Number
If you were late to discover the theft of your SSN and significant damage has been done to your credit, its possible.
First off, getting a new SSN is not easy. To do so, you have to prove the identity theft and also that the theft has led to you facing problems with law enforcement, the IRS or that your bad credit cant be fixed.
There are significant downsides to obtaining a new SSN. The first is that your new number will have an empty credit history. This means you will have to start from zero, building up your credit score, which can take years.
If you decide you want to pursue this option, you need to start by filling out a SSN application form. It is up to the Social Security Administration to decide whether or not to grant your request for a new number. But, if youre trying to figure out what to do if your identity is stolen, its going to be the best route to take. Your new SSN will be free of fraud and clear of potential headaches.
Significant Changes On Your Credit Report
Significant changes on your credit report are almost always a sign of a stolen Social Security number. If you notice sudden and significant changes in your report, then you need to get to the bottom of the issue immediately. These changes could come in different forms. The changes could be in the form of a lower credit score, late payments on your file, or new accounts on your report. If you notice any of these changes and you dont know how they got there, then its almost a guarantee that your Social Security number was stolen. Thieves have used your personal information for financial gain and have attempted to leave you holding the bag.
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What To Do If Someone Steals Your Ssn
If you become aware that someone has stolen your Social Security Number or have a suspicion, take these steps immediately. Its essential to act quickly to prevent any further harm.
The first step is to contact one of the credit-reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian or Equifax. Heres how to contact the Big Three credit bureaus.
When you get someone on the lie, tell them you would like to place a credit freeze and a fraud alert on your credit file.
Putting a credit freeze on your file will block lenders from your credit report without your approval. The good thing is, its easy to unfreeze your account. Better safe than sorry.
The next step is to report the identity theft to the Social Security Administration and other government agencies.
The first you should contact is the Federal Trade Commission via identitytheft.gov. You can also file a police report with your local police department, which can assist you down the road.
The third step is to report your identity theft to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Doing so will distribute your report to local, state and federal authorities and create an official report. This step is the most important when asking what to do if someone steals your SSN.
Social Security Number Theft: What To Do If Someone Steals Your Ssn
Social Security number theft and identity theft are major headaches that can crush your credit score. Heres what to do if someone steals your SSN number.
The importance of your Social Security Number cant be exaggerated. The nine-digit number is your connection to the Social Security Administration but goes far beyond that. It has become one of the most commonly used numbers for verifying identity. Unfortunately, identity thieves realize the potential of these numbers and Social Security theft costs victims billions of dollars in damages each year.
You need a Social Security number to get a job, collect Social Security benefits, apply for federal loans, open bank accounts, buy a home and sign up for private insurance.
The unique number is a way for the government to keep track of your lifetime earnings and the number of years worked to calculate Social Security benefits later in life.
Social Security Number theft happens when a thief gains control of your unique number and uses it for their own advantage. There are many ways a thief can use this number and the damage they can do with it is significant.
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Be Aware Of Suspicious Financial Activity
Staying aware of whats going on with your finances can help you see when things arent right. Ask yourself:
- Did I receive a bill or receipt for something I didnt buy?
- Have debt collection agencies contacted me about accounts that I didnt open?
- Was I denied credit when I thought my credit score was good?
- Has a company suddenly stopped sending bills and letters in the mail?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, it could be a sign that someones using your SSN for illegal activities.
How To Protect Yourself From Harm
Take the initiative. Call your phone company and inquire about obtaining a personal identification number or password to verify your identity when you call about your account.
Maintain your state of readiness by establishing email and text message notifications for all of your critical accounts, including your financial ones.
If you discover that changes were made to your account without your knowledge, you should get in touch with the firm that manages that account as soon as possible and let them know that you did not provide permission for the modification.
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Use The Id Theft Affidavit
Creditors may ask you to fill out fraud affidavits. The Federal Trade Commissions ID Theft Affidavit is accepted by the credit bureaus and by most major creditors. Send copies of the completed form to creditors where the thief opened accounts in your name. Also send copies to creditors where the thief made charges on your account, to the credit bureaus, and to the police. The form is available on the FTC Web site at ww.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/resources/forms/affidavit.pdf. File a complaint of identity theft with the FTC. See their Web site at www.consumer.gov/idtheft The FTC keeps a database of identity theft cases that is used by many law enforcement agencies.
Know The Signs Of Identity Theft
You may not know youre a victim of identity theft until youre notified by the IRS of a possible issue with your return.
Be alert to possible tax-related identity theft if:
- You get a letter from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
- You cant e-file your tax return because of a duplicate Social Security number.
- You get a tax transcript in the mail that you did not request.
- You get an IRS notice that an online account has been created in your name.
- You get an IRS notice that your existing online account has been accessed or disabled when you took no action.
- You get an IRS notice that you owe additional tax or refund offset, or that you have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return.
- IRS records indicate you received wages or other income from an employer you didnt work for.
- Youve been assigned an Employer Identification Number but you did not request an EIN.
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Request Information On Fraudulent Accounts
When you file your police report of identity theft, the officer may give you forms to use to request account information from credit grantors, utilities or cell phone service companies. If the officer does not do this, you can use the form in our Consumer Information Sheet 3A: Requesting Information on Fraudulent Accounts. When you write to creditors where the thief opened or applied for accounts, send copies of the forms, along with copies of the police report. Give the information you receive from creditors to the officer investigating your case.