What Does Freezing Your Ssn Mean
For most people, freezing their social security number means stopping inquiries on credit reports. Inquiries are the way banks and others evaluate people before loaning money. No one can access your credit if your social security number is frozen. To freeze your social security number in this way, contact the major credit reporting agencies to freeze your account. Each agency must allow individuals to freeze and unfreeze their credit as the individual sees fit, according to law.
Can You Freeze Your Social Security Number
High on the list of recommendations to protect your identity is a credit freeze or security freeze. Other ways to specifically restrict access to your SSN include blocking electronic access and using E-Verifyâs self-lock feature.
Setting these up are three entirely different processes. , for example, require you to contact each individual credit reporting agency . To block electronic access to your SSN, you have to call your local Social Security office or 1-800-772-1213.
Finally, you can turn on the SSN Self Lock online via the Department of Homeland Securityâs âmyE-Verifyâ website.
While thereâs no one way to freeze your SSN, itâs easy to see why you could confuse the three available options.
When Should You Lock Your Social Security Number
If your Social Security information has been compromised, you may be able to use an SSN lock to prevent some access to your personal information.
Unfortunately, you may not know that someone has stolen your SSN until its too late. For example, you may have been the victim of a phishing attack. Phishing is a kind of email, texting or phone scam that tricks you into providing personal information by sending you communications that appear to come from a legitimate, trusted source.
Be on the lookout for the following suspicious activity that may indicate identity theft:
- Incorrect information on your credit reports
- Unexplained withdrawals in your checking or savings accounts
- Bills for credit cards you havent applied for
- Collections calls for debt you dont owe
- Discrepancies in your tax returns or Social Security benefit statements
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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.
How Locking Your Social Security Number Works
Locking your Social Security number is a simple process of accessing the governments myE-Verify website. The site walks you through the necessary steps:
The lock lasts for a year unless you take steps to reverse it, and youll be notified in advance when the lock is about to expire so you can renew it if you want to.
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How To Get An Ip Pin
The fastest way to receive an IP PIN is by using the online Get an IP PIN tool. If you wish to get an IP PIN and you dont already have an account on IRS.gov, you must register to validate your identity. The IP PIN tool is generally available starting in mid-January through mid-November. Select the button to get started
Browse Online With A Vpn
Intrusive pop-ups and data-stealing malware downloads can make online browsing strenuous. To prevent browsers from collecting data around your online activity, consider:
- Signing out of your browsers and installing extensions that double down on privacy and security. If youâre on websites that support HTTPS, HTTPS Everywhere can force an encrypted connection so that your data remains private.
- If youâre on public Wi-Fi, use a Virtual Private Network to hide your online traffic and location.
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How To Freeze A Social Security Number
Safeguarding your Social Security number is one of the best identity protection steps that you can take. Unfortunately, even the most careful individuals fall victim to identity thieves. According to the team at the Insurance Information Institute, there were nearly 5 million cases of identity theft in 2020. Discovering that your Social Security number may be exposed is overwhelming, but there are a few steps you must take immediately to freeze your SSN and protect yourself.
How Thieves Can Profit From Your Social Security Card
That being said, if your SS card has fallen into the wrong hands, you may be at risk of identity theft. Thieves can use your SSN to:
- Apply for credit in your name and then not pay the bills, which can damage your credit score1
If you live in any of the above states, go to the next section .
NOTE: Was your drivers license or ID card issued by a U.S. territory like American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands? If so, you cant request a new SS card online you must do it either over the phone or in person.
If you live in an eligible state, there are a few more requirements to request a new SS card online:
- You are a U.S. citizen age 18 or older.
- You have a U.S. mailing address, which includes APO, FPO, and DPO addresses.
- You arent requesting any changes to the card, just a new card.
- Your drivers license or state identification card is from one of the 50 U.S. states or Washington, D.C.
After you request a new card, you should get a replacement within 10 to 14 days.4
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Does A Temporary Fraud Alert Prevent Accounts From Being Opened In My Name
It doesnt 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, youll 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 theyd have to put in more effort to impersonate you.
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Notices To Verify Employment Termination
Fraudulent UI claims in your name may also trigger action from your employer. Government agencies reviewing applications for federal aid programs will contact employers for additional context about an applicantâs departure or termination of employment.
What to do: Notify your company in writing, such as via email. This demonstrates that you responsibly informed your employer of potential identity fraud.
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Contact Companies Where Your Social Security Number Has Been Used Fraudulently
In the case that your information was used to create fraudulent accounts, you’ll want to contact each company involved. For example, if your SSN was used to create bank accounts or credit accounts in your name, reach out to each company and explain that you’re a victim of identity theft. They can then close your accounts so the identity thief can’t use the accounts any longer.
If someone used your information to create fraudulent identification records, you’ll need to contact all agencies involved, possibly including the IRS, Social Security Administration and your secretary of state’s office, which handles cases of fraudulent identification.
Common Causes Of Social Security Number Identity Theft
Social security identity theft is nothing new. Its an approach that many identity thieves take because the SSN serves as a golden meal ticket. Yet, the ways that these criminals obtain the number in the first place are often the same.
Here are the most common ways your SSN could get stolen:
- Your purse or wallet is lost or stolen.
- Your mail was taken or failed to redirect.
- Your information gets compromised in a data breach.
- Your documents get stolen by family, friends, or staff.
- You get tricked by a phishing style scam.
As you can see, some of the possible ways your SSN could get stolen are not preventable. This means you cannot guarantee that your identity stays safe. Of course, using a trusted identity theft protection service can help. You will still want to know everything you need to do, supposing someone steals and use your SSN.
Learn To Recognize Phishing Attempts
Phishing messages often look official and are designed to trick you into believing that they come from your bank or credit card company â when, in fact, they are actually coming from a scammer.
Phishing emails dupe you into sharing sensitive information, like credit card numbers and other personally identifiable information . When carried out through text messages, these scams are called âsmishing.â Signs of phishing and smishing messages include:
- Originates from a generic domain or from a spoofed domain
- Takes an urgent or threatening tone and contains grammatical or spelling errors
- Includes suspicious links or attachments
These are just a few examples of what gives away a phishing email.
Learn More About Credit Freezes And Fraud Alerts
- A fraud alert flags your credit report and encourages lenders to verify your identity before issuing new lines of credit in your name.
- A credit freeze blocks your credit file so that lenders canât even access your credit report. Credit freezes also block new credit applications until you âthawâ the freeze with each of the three major credit bureaus.
Understanding the differences between a can help you take swift action if you think youâre a victim of identity theft.
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Apply For A New Ssn As A Last Resort
If you believe youve done everything you can and someone is still using your SSN, you may need to request a new number from the SSA. If you decide to apply for a new number, you will need to prove your identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or immigration status. You will also need to provide evidence that someone is using your old number. The SSA booklet Your Social Security Number and Card explains the application process.
Bear in mind that a new SSN may not solve all your problems. Think about all the government agencies, banks, credit reporting companies, and others that already have and use your old number.
Once you receive a new SSN, do not use your old number again. Make sure your new number is reported to all agencies that will need it and that those agencies know you no longer use your old number.
How To Use Self Lock
To access Self Lock, you must be logged in to your myE-Verify account.
To lock your SSN, you must select and answer three challenge questions. Select questions you can easily answer, because you will need to answer them again to verify your identity if you receive an E-Verify Tentative Nonconfirmation due to Self Lock.
If you are about to start a new job with anE-Verifyemployer, you should log into your account and unlock your SSN.
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Apply For An Irs Identity Protection Pin
An IRS identity protection PIN can protect your identity and prevent other people from filing tax returns in your name. You can set up an account at IRS.gov by verifying your identity. Then, the system helps you get a PIN on your account. Be sure to check for a new PIN by mail each year or log on to the IRS website and request one.
How Can I Detect A Phishing Email Pretending To Be Social Security
- Most emails from Social Security will come from a .gov” email address. If an email address does not end in .gov, use caution before opening attachments or clicking on pictures or links in the email. Currently, Social Security sends emails from ,, , , and echosign.com.
- In a few instances, we use marketing firms to raise awareness of Social Securitys online services, and this includes creating a my Social Security account. We allow these firms to send email directly to individuals. Any links you find within these emails should always point to a .gov/ web address.
- Links, logos, or pictures in the body of an official Social Security email will always direct you to an official Social Security website. Rather than relying on the way a link looks, please follow these steps to confirm a links authenticity:
- To verify the web address of a link or picture, hover over it with your mouse until a text box appears with the web address. This is the actual address you will be directed to and it should always include .gov/. A forward slash should always follow the .gov domain.
- Example – https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
- Links to the official Social Security website will always begin with or .
- Below are examples of fraudulent websites pretending to direct you to Social Security. Notice the location of the forward slash.
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Tip : Beware Of Phone And Email Scams
Identity thieves may try to trick you into revealing your SSN. For instance, in a phone or email, they might pose as your employer or a government office requesting information. Avoid sharing your number unless youre positive its a legitimate request.
Better yet, consider calling the requesting organization at a verifiable telephone number to provide the information. Or visit in person.
Dont Give It Out To Strangers
You should never provide your SSN to someone you dont know who calls you on the phone and requests it. This same warning applies to unsolicited emails and any forms you fill out on the internet. In general, dont give your SSN to anyone unless you are absolutely certain they have a reason and a right to have it.
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Check If Your Child Has A Credit Report
Generally, a child under 18 wont have a credit report unless someone is using his or her information for fraud. A good way to find out if someone is using your childs information to commit fraud is to check if your child has a credit report. To do that, contact the three credit bureaus and ask for a manual search for your child’s Social Security number. You may have to give the credit bureaus a copy of
- your drivers license or other government-issued identification card
- proof of your address, like a utility bill, or a credit card or insurance statement
- your childs birth certificate
- your childs Social Security card
If youre not the childs parent, you may have to give the credit bureaus a copy of documents that prove you are the childs legal guardian.
When Your Child Turns 16
When your child turns 16, you may want to check if theres a credit report in his or her name. This could help you spot identity theft, since children under 18 usually dont have a credit report. If theres inaccurate information in your childs credit report, youll have time to correct it before he or she applies for a job, a college loan, a car loan, or a credit card, or tries to rent a place to live.
Ask Questions When They Ask For Your Social Security Number
There is no law that prevents businesses from asking for your SSN. And you may be denied service if you don’t give the number. If giving your SSN to a business doesn’t seem reasonable to you, ask if you can show another form of identification. Or ask if the business can use another number as your customer number.
Remember that some government agencies can require your SSN. These agencies include DMV, welfare offices, and tax agencies. Look for the required “disclosure” form. The form should state if giving the number is required or optional, how it will be used, and the agency’s legal authority to ask for it.1
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Unexpected Or Missing Mail
Identity thieves may also watch your snail mail and email for your SSN. Itâs become a tactic of choice â with mail theft complaints increasing by 161% from 2020 to 2021 . Key signs someone has eyes on your mail include:
- Not receiving bank statements or invoices
- Receiving new credit cards that you never applied for
- Strange or unfamiliar medical bills
What to do: If your mailbox is in a communal area, lock your mailbox and only give access to the mailman. Also request and monitor your free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com and dispute any new unfamiliar credit accounts that you see.
What Is A Security Freeze
A security freeze blocks access to your credit unless you have given your permission. This can prevent an identity thief from opening a new account or getting credit in your name. All consumers can get a free security freeze online, by phone or by mail. A security freeze, also known as a credit or a file freeze, can be lifted temporarily when you are applying for credit, or removed permanently. Parents and guardians can also shield their childrens credit report with a special Protected Consumer security freeze. These freezes can also be used to safeguard incapacitated adults.
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