Here’s 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 Administration’s 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.
Medical Care And Insurance Theft
If someone has your social security information, they could claim to be you and use your health insurance to receive medical care. However, this is way deadlier than you may think. If there are medical records on file about the criminal , it could lead to a medical mix-up down the road when you need care. And not to mention the expensive medical bills youll be left to pay!
Social Security Numbers: What Are They For
Your SSN is a number that the US government assigns to the countrys citizens and eligible permanent and working residents. The government uses it to track your earnings and identify you for taxation and other purposes.
Now, what activities might require you to provide your Social Security number? Here are some examples:
- Receiving insurance and government benefits
- Opening financial accounts
- Purchasing properties and vehicles
- Filing taxes and legal papers
Youll generally have the same SSN for a lifetimeunless you have a stolen SSN and you can prove that its being used in fraudulent activities.
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Reach Out To Companies Where The Fraudster Used Your Ssn
If youre a victim of fraudulent accounts, reach out to the company in question as soon as possible.
Contact credit card companies, bank accounts, and utility companies, as they have the authority to close or freeze those accounts. After doing so, get the IRS and the Social Security Administration involved and report everything in detail.
Report The Fraud To The Federal Trade Commission
As soon as you realize someone has stolen your SSN, report it to the Federal Trade Commission for identity theft. You can reach them through the following channels:
- Online: IdentityTheft.gov
- Phone call: 1-877-438-4338
You must provide all the details of the situation, fill out forms, and remain patient as the investigation begins.
While identity theft can be difficult to resolve, having a police report will help you justify any crimes scammers may have committed under your name.
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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:
Who To Contact If Your Ssn Gets Stolen
If you fall victim to this kind of theft, there are several agencies you should report it to before you go any further:
The Social Security Administration
Although the SSA cant help you resolve the fraud, they can go over your records with you to check that theyre correct. Go to https://secure.ssa.gov/emailus/ to fill out a contact form or call 1-800-772-1213 TTY 1-800-325-0778. Its worth noting that sometimes more than one person can be using the same SSN due to an administrative error.
This is a website managed by the Federal Trade Commission. Itll guide you through the process of identifying the type of fraud youve experienced and reporting it. Theyll also help you develop a recovery plan so that you know what to do next. Go to https://www.identitytheft.gov/#/ or call 1-877-IDTHEFT TTY 1-866-653-4261.
The Internal Revenue Service
As mentioned above, if someone else has your SSN, they could use it to make a fake claim for a tax refund. If you let the IRS know that your number may have been stolen, they can double-check any claims if/when they come in. Go to www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection or call 1-800-908-4490.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center
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What Can Someone Do With Your Social Security Number
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Laws editorial disclosure for more information.
Your Social Security number is one of the most important identifiers you have for financial and legal purposes. Most people born in the United States are issued one at birth, but its not usually something you use yourself until youve reached adulthood. But what happens if someone gets your Social Security number? Keep reading to find out how your SSN can be stolen and what criminals can do with it once they have it.
Can Your Social Security Number Be Stolen
The first thing to know is that whenever we talk about theft of this identifier, we are talking about impersonation. In other words, a criminal has obtained the Social Security number data and supplants our identity to carry out certain actions.
That does not invalidate that the number still works for the victim. Therefore, sometimes it makes it very difficult to quickly detect that someone is using our Social Security number to take our identity.
Although there are different ways through which criminals can obtain this information, the most common are:
- Data protection attacks: increasingly common over the Internet. They use various forms ranging from malicious e-mails to programs with viruses and Trojans.
- Through mishandled documentation: it is not uncommon for criminals to obtain data through mishandled documentation, send it to the trash without processing, etc.
- Direct theft: this may be more uncommon, but if our home or documentation is stolen, relevant data can be accessed, including our social security ID number if we have it written down or on our person.
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More Ways To Protect Your Social Security Number
Going forward, the name of the game will be monitoring and ongoing protection. For instance, to see if your Social Security number is being used by someone else for employment purposes, review your Social Security Statement to look for suspicious activity.
Get in the habit of regularly checking your bank and credit card accounts online for suspicious activity. You should also monitor your credit report, driving records and insurance records.
Here are a few ways you can continue to protect your Social Security number:
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Tip : Create Strong Passwords
Strong passwords that use a unique combination of numbers, letters, and symbols can help prevent identity thieves from accessing your personal information in online accounts. Heres one password you should never use: your Social Security number. And dont use your SSNs last four digits as a PIN.
Finally, dont use the same passwords repeatedly. Even if its a strong password, and its one that you can easily remember, all a hacker has to do is crack that password once. The thief will then be able to access all your important accounts that are protected by that password, even ones that contain your Social Security number.
While You’re On The Irs’s Website Get A Pin
The IRS offers a free, six-digit, identity protection PIN that you can get through their website. When you file your tax return you’ll need to provide that PIN to verify your identity. That makes it a lot harder for somebody else to file a tax return in your name, since even if they have your Social Security number they shouldn’t have your PIN.
To get the PIN just go to . You’ll need to go through a little process to verify your identity, then they’ll issue you the PIN.
It’s not a bad idea to do this proactively just to help limit the damage identity thieves could do later.
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Create Fake Tax Returns
When filing your taxes, institutions almost always require your SSN. When someone harvests your Social Security Number, they can file fraudulent tax returns under your name for stimulus money or refund claims.
Unfortunately, this can be difficult to track and will take you painful months of going back and forth trying to explain and defend your identity to the IRS.
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.
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Tip : Leave Home Without It
There may be times when you need to show your card to someone. But, in general, its a good idea to avoid carrying your card or any documents that display your SSN. Its possible you might lose your wallet or leave your documents behind.
Not all thieves will want your Social Security number, but many will. Leaving your card at home decreases the chances that these scammers will gain access to your Social Security number.
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.
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Report The Identity Theft To The Ftc And Police
Your first action should be to report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission and file a police report. When you visit the Social Security Administration’s website, you’ll be directed to the FTC website, IdentityTheft.gov, where you can report one or more of the following types of fraud related to your SSN:
- Someone filed a tax return in your name
- Someone filed for unemployment or government benefits in your name
- Someone gained access to your information
- Your information was exposed in a data breach
Next, you’ll get information on next steps to take, which may include completing more forms and getting a recovery plan. For tax-related identity theft, which usually involves your SSN, you may be required to complete an identity theft affidavit, or Form 14039.
After reporting the theft to the FTC, file a police report with your local jurisdiction. While your city or county may not be able to investigate this crime right away , having a police report can serve as documentation in your identity recovery and resolution endeavors.
Here Are All The Terrible Things A Criminal Can Do With Your Social Security Number
Identity theft is a serious problem in the US. In 2017 alone, more than 16.7 million people were affected. Most of the time, criminals steal your identity by having access to your Social Security number. Whats worse: you might not even realize whats happening until its too late.
There are several ways hackers can get your Social Security number, and some are totally out of your control . Here are some terrible ways that a stolen Social Security number can be used:
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Commit Crimes Using Your Name
Dont have a criminal history? Well, you could end up with one if a real criminal gives your social security number to the police. If they have your SSN, they could falsely assume your identity so the police dont find out about their past crimes. Having a crime appear on your background check could impact your chances at getting a job and purchasing a home.
What Should You Do If You Think Your Social Security Number Has Been Stolen
If you think your SSN has been stolen, you should immediately reach out to your banks, credit card companies and other financial services providers to let them know. Youll also want to inform the three main credit bureaus. Its a good idea to file a police report to have an official record, and make sure to check the FTCs official recommendations, which list who to notify and how.
Having your identity stolen can wreak havoc on your personal and financial life, but being as careful as possible with your SSN can help protect you. If you do find yourself the victim of identity theft or fraud, you may need to seek help from a or legal counsel.
Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.
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What Happens When Someones Identity Is Stolen
Once an identity thief has your Social Security number, they can commit all sorts of financial fraud with it, potentially leaving you on the hook for their misconduct.
Look at it this way: Social Security numbers are wrapped up in most aspects of Americans lives employment, medical history, taxes, education, bank accounts, and so on. Below is a list of just a few things someone can do with your SSN if they get their hands on it.
1. Open financial accounts
Your Social Security number is the most important piece of personal information a bank needs when extending you credit or opening an account. With that number, a thief can get credit cards or loans, and when it comes time to repay them, they wont, damaging your credit in the process. Those missed payments are tied to your Social Security number, so theyll end up on your credit report and could impact your ability to apply for any type of loan or new account in the future.
Once you spot suspicious transactions, you can use your credit scores and credit reports to detect fraud and put an end to it. Unfortunately, it could take years for the fraudulent information to be removed from your credit report and, as a result, for your credit scores to recover.
2. Get medical care
3. File a fraudulent tax refund
4. Commit crimes
5. Steal your benefits