How Do I Protect My Social Security Number From Theft
There are several things you can do to help protect your SSN from theft. First and foremost, you should never share your Social Security number with anyone unless absolutely necessary. If you are attempting to get a loan or open a new account with a credit card company, they will obviously need your SSN to check your credit report. Even when sharing your SSN in situations such as these, always type your number directly into their system if possible. Try to avoid writing it down where it might be stolen by someone else.
Always be on the lookout for scams and scammers. Watch for phishing scams in your inbox or phone calls from someone attempting to impersonate your financial institution. Most companies will never call you directly and ask for your account number or Social Security number. If they do, you should NOT share it with them. Call the company back at a known phone number and inform them of the call. More than likely, it was not them who was calling.
Do not carry your Social Security card with you except when necessary. If you need to show your Social Security card for employment verification or another reason, then carry it with you. Otherwise, your card should remain in a safe place at home. This can help prevent possible theft through the loss of your Social Security card. Your drivers license will almost always suffice for identification purposes, so there are very few reasons why you would need to show your Social Security card to anyone.
Identity Theft Fact Sheet
Social security numbers were originally created for the purpose of tracking earnings and paying benefits. They were never meant to be used by businesses as an identifier, but have taken on that role because everyone has one.
Just about everybody wants your social security number today schools, phone companies, utility companies, insurance companies, health clubs etc. Many want the number to get your credit rating, to determine whether you pay your bills, and to keep track of you through name and address changes. Some companies use your social security number to develop marketing lists which they can sell to other companies.
Thieves also want your social security number. A stolen wallet containing a social security card lets a criminal quickly set up fraudulent accounts in your name.
The snowballing problem of identity theft is spurring some states to limit the use of social security numbers. In the meantime, the first defense against the fraudulent use of social security numbers is to not give your number to anyone who does not absolutely need it.
How Can Someone Get A Hold Of Your Social Security Number
Find Your Lost Social Security Card
Losing your SSN card is a BIG deal, and it could end up in anyones hands. You hope its going to be a good Samaritan, but more often than not, its someone with bad intentions. If you ever need to carry your card with you, make sure its in a safe place where it wont fall out or get misplaced.
Steal Your Mail, Purse, or Wallet
Someone could get a hold of your SSN card if they steal your mail, wallet, or purse. Mail often contains private personal information that an identity thief can use to find out your social security number.
You would be surprised by the number of online scammers that are looking to get your personal information. They will say and do anything to manipulate you into providing your bank and credit card information, along with your SSN number. For example, they may pose as a legit business in your area who has an exclusive deal for you.
Any website, business, or information database is open to being hacked. When data breaches occur, hackers often look to steal peoples personal information to sell or exploit. This includes someones social security number. Once the information is stolen, there is no way to get it back. All that can be done by the entity that was hacked is notify you about the situation.
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So Should You Keep Your Ssn In A Safe
No, you shouldnât. Instead, you should keep all your personally identifiable information as safe as possible.
In todayâs world, our personal information is mostly digital. Online security, cyber hygiene, and browsing habits are more important than ever. Take some time to educate yourself on how to be safe online, and you wonât have to worry about losing your personal data or resources!
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What Can A Thief Do With Your Social Security Number
Because an SSN is unique to every individual, it is a very useful identification tool. But since its difficult to use on its own, criminals get quite crafty when it comes to using your Social Security number.
In essence, all types of SSN-related identity thefts use the number plus your additional information to bypass identification procedures in social and financial institutions. So, to the people wondering what can someone do with your SSN, the following is just scratching the surface.
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Register For Credit Monitoring
Signing up for a credit monitoring service can be a great way to help prevent future fraud on your SSN. These protection services can provide immediate notifications in the event that someone is attempting to use your Social Security number. Some of these services also provide insurance protection, and they will assist in getting fraudulent items removed from your credit report. Registering for credit monitoring can be a great idea even if you have not been the victim of ID theft mainly if you know that your information was part of a data breach. These services can help keep an extra set of eyes on your personal information and can help you catch any suspicious activity as quickly as possible.
Obtain Credit Cards Or Loans In Your Name
Fraudsters are mostly motivated by financial gain. And a stolen SSN gives them plenty of opportunities to steal your money or destroy your credit. In 2020 alone, there were 363,092 cases of fraud by new credit card accounts .
With just your SSN, name, and address, fraudsters can take out a credit card or loan in your name. Once theyâve opened a new account, theyâll quickly max out your credit and leave you with the bill â which can seriously damage your credit score and affect your ability to apply for credit in the future.
ð¯ Pro tip: Monitor your SSN for signs of fraud.
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Steal Your Benefits And Social Security Checks
Federal benefits such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income are tied to your SSN. A scammer with your SSN can divert your existing benefits checks and apply for other benefits â leaving you without support while you spend months trying to prove your identity.
ð¡ Related: How Scammers Claim Benefits in Your Name â
Social Security Fraud Misuse Or Impersonation
|The Social Security Administration investigates reports like these:|
|Or call 1-800-269-0271.|
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When Applying For A Federal Loan
The government will use your Social Security number to make sure youre eligible when you apply for a federal loan, such as a federal student loan. For example, to qualify for federal student loans, you must not be in default on another federal loan, you must have eligible citizenship or visitor status, and most male applicants must have registered with the Selective Service.
I Found Someone Elses Name On My Credit Report Now What
If you have found someone elses name on your credit report, it can be a scary experience. You may not know what to do or where to turn. In this blog post, we will discuss the steps that you need to take in order to protect yourself and resolve the issue. We will also provide some tips for preventing this from happening in the future.
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Do I Need A Physical Social Security Replacement Card
A Social Security number is what helps you get jobs and collect Social Security benefits and other government services. An SSN is essential the physical card is less so. In most cases, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration , knowing your SSN is sufficient. For example, if you want to get a Real ID to fly domestically or access certain federal facilities, an SS card isnt necessary. Rather, you could use a recent pay stub, a W-2, an SSA-1099 , or other tax documents that show your full name. Even just knowing your SSN can serve as proof, believe it or not.
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.
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What Could They Do With My Social Security Number
An identity thief who has your social security number and other personal information could do a number of things with it, including:
Open new credit accounts, like credit cards or car loans, in your name
Claim tax refunds that rightfully belong to you
Create a fake identity to get a job, apartment, or other services
Claim fraudulent unemployment benefits in your name
Get benefits like healthcare while pretending to be you
Create a fake identity to defraud other people or commit other crimes in your name
When Is It Safe To Share Your Social Security Number
While identity theft is always a concern, there are legitimate reasons to give out your Social Security number. Here’s what privacy experts say.
Dan is a writer on CNET’s How-To team. His byline has appeared in Newsweek, NBC News, The New York Times, Architectural Digest, The Daily Mail and elsewhere. He is a crossword junkie and is interested in the intersection of tech and marginalized communities.
Social Security numbers are practically universal identifiers in the US, but they weren’t always intended to be that way. The system was created in the 1930s to administer government retirement and disability benefits. Over the decades, though, the nine-digit codes have become essential when it comes to applying for a credit card, buying a home and even getting paid by your employer.
Because nearly every US citizen and permanent resident has a Social Security number, they’re also the go-to authentication method for cell-service operators, utility companies and other businesses. That makes them a prime target for identity theft. An Equifax data breach in 2017 may have exposed the Social Security numbers of nearly half of all Americans.
How do you know when you should — and shouldn’t — share your Social? We consulted the experts. For more on Social Security, here’s how to order a new Social Security card and how to access your Social Security benefits online.
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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!
How To Protect Your Social Security Card Moving Forward
In general, these are some best practices to protect yourself from identity theft, particularly regarding your SS card and your SSN number:
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Does A Temporary Fraud Alert Prevent Accounts From Being Opened In My Name
It doesn’t prevent it the way a does, but it does make it more difficult. Any business that has been approached to open an account in your name is supposed to take extra steps to verify the identity of the person opening the account. That means you can still open accounts, you’ll just have to go through a couple of extra steps to prove that you are who you say you are.
It would be possible for a thief to open a fraudulent account too, but they’d have to put in more effort to impersonate you.
Heres Where To Get More Information On Social Security Numbers
Identity Theft: If you think an identity thief is using your SSN to work or to collect benefits, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. If you think someone may be using your SSN to work, check your Social Security Personal Earnings and Benefit Statement. You can get a copy by calling 1-800-772-1213, or online at www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7004.pdf. Also see the Social Security Administrations booklet Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number, at www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html.
History of SSNs: For a chronology of the laws relating to SSNs, see www.ssa.gov/history/ssn/ssnchron.html.
What the Numbers Mean: For an explanation of the meaning of the numbers in SSNs and answers to other questions about SSNs, see www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/.
More on Protecting your SSN: Fact Sheet 10: My Social Security Number: How Secure Is It? from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, at www.privacyrights.org.
Recommended Practices: For recommendations on how organizations can protect privacy in their handling of SSNs, see Recommended Practices for Protecting the Confidentiality of Social Security Numbers on the Business page at www.privacy.ca.gov.
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What Is A Phishing Scam
A phishing scam occurs when someone attempts to steal your personal information. Most phishing scams occur through email, although more and more are occurring over the phone. The scammers will usually impersonate a known person or organization. For example, they might send an email that appears to come from your bank. In the email, they might ask you to click a link and verify your Social Security number or password. If you do so, the information goes to the scammer, and they have access to your SSN. A caller might also tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended. Your number cannot be suspended, and this is a scam! You should never provide any personal information via email or over the phone unless you are absolutely certain of the identity of the requester.
Set Up Identity Theft Protection
There is no way to stop scammers and fraudsters from knowing your personal information once you give it away. And often, youll never be able to find out who has it. This is because scammers and hackers will often sell your personal information in bulk to numerous fraudsters over places such as the dark web.
However, you can still protect yourself even if fraudsters have your personal information.
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When Is It Ok To Share My Social Security Number
Though it’s important to protect your Social Security number, there are legitimate reasons for sharing those nine digits.
“Any company that you’re applying to for a loan or line of credit needs your number,” Paige Hanson, cyber safety education chief at NortonLifeLock, said in an interview.
That includes banks and credit reporting agencies, Hanson said, but it could also mean a cell-service provider, since a phone contract is like a line of credit.
Your Social Security number is also going to be mandatory for anything that triggers tax reporting, including your employer reporting your wages to the IRS, said Alan Butler, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit focused on defending privacy and identity rights.
You’ll need to share it if you have an investment adviser or are engaging in a cash transaction of $10,000 or more — like buying a car or house.
Government agencies that provide benefits can also request your number, including the US Department of Labor and state agencies that administer Medicaid. Those requests should come with a disclosure form that explains whether the number is required or optional, confirms the agency’s authority to ask for it and explains what it’ll be used for.