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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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
Do Medicare Cards Expire
Generally speaking, no, your Medicare card wont expire. For the vast majority of people, continuing to pay your annual Medicare premiums will automatically renew your coverage. Youll also notice there are no coverage end dates on your card, only coverage start dates.
Basically, the government has tried to make it as easy as possible to utilize Medicare. But there are a couple of exceptions to the automatic renewal process.
Sometimes, your Medicare coverage changes due to new laws and regulations. But dont stress youll be notified directly if any laws or regulations change your coverage. Youll also need a new Medicare card if you switch from Medicare Advantage back to the original Medicare program.
Medicare Parts A and B will renew automatically, so long as you pay your premiums. So will your Medicare card for these programs. But do keep in mind that youll need to request a new Medicare card if you choose to switch.
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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.
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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.
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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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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.
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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.
Checking Your Credit Score
The most common way to catch unauthorized activity is by checking your credit information. If an account appears that you did not initiate, someone is using your Social Security number.
You can check your credit score using a third-party service like or check with your credit card company to see if they have such a feature.
If youre applying for a new line of credit and get turned down, this could mean that there are fraudulent accounts or activities that are affecting your credit score.
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It’s Entirely Up To The Social Security Administration To Decide Whether You Can Get A New Number
If the agency doesn’t think you need a new one, you won’t get one.
If you do decide to get a new Social Security number, the first step is as easy as filling out a standard SSN application form . You’ll enter the old number on it. But be prepared to plead your case, and to have ample documentation to prove it.
Don’t forget that the old Social Security number never completely goes away, even if it goes dormant. The Social Security Administration never invalidates an SSN once it’s been issued.
Request Additional Free Credit Reports
California identity theft victims with a police report of identity theft are entitled to receive up to 12 free credit reports, one per month for the 12 months following the date of the police report. The procedure for requesting free monthly reports is different for each of the credit bureaus.2
Experian: Make a single request to receive all of your free monthly reports. Mail your request for 12 free monthly reports to Experian at P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013. Enclose a copy of the police report of identity theft, a copy of a government-issued identification card , and a copy of proof of current mailing address . Also provide your full name including middle initial , previous addresses for the past two years, Social Security number and date of birth.
TransUnion LLC: Write or call in your request each month. Mail to TransUnion LLC, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016. Or call the toll-free number printed on your most recent TransUnion LLC credit report. Provide your full name including middle initial , Social Security number, date of birth, and proof of residence .
Equifax: Write or call in your request each month. Mail to Equifax Fraud Department, P.O. Box 740250, Atlanta, GA 30374. Or call the toll-free number printed on your most recent Equifax credit report.
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Request A Fraud Alert Or Credit Freeze
Fraudsters may want to use your identity to scam others. They may want to make purchases under your name, rent a car or an apartment, open a new credit card or apply for a loan, said Francis Locknear, founder of The Cost Guys. This is why its ideal to request a credit freeze if somebody has stolen your social security number. A credit freeze will restrict access to your credit report.
You will need to freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
If somebody has your SSN but doesnt have any proof of the incident, you can still prevent the fraudster from using your identity, Locknear said. You can have a fraud alert placed. It will not restrict access to your credit report, but it will prevent anyone from using your information without verifying your identity first.
How To Protect Your Identity When Your Social Security Card Is Stolen
If your social security card has been stolen, youve lost important vital records that prove your identity. Taking steps to protect yourself will help prevent fiscal losses.
- If you dont know your social security number, contact the Social Security Office first with a copy of your birth certificate or passport.
- Then, report identity theft to the FTC. Visit IdentityTheft.Gov and fill out the wizard to make a report.
- Also, call the IRS at 800-908-4490 to report the theft and to prevent someone from submitting a tax return in your name. You may have to prove your identity with your birth record.
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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 To Do When Your Social Security Number Gets Stolen
It happens all the time to even the most careful Americans, and yet so many of us dont know what to do should it happen to us. Were talking about having your Social Security number stolen. Identity thieves snatch these precious digits through a variety of ways, including by hacking us online or scamming us by posing as a legit agency such as the IRS or Social Security Administration.
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Once they obtain this most sensitive information, criminals can sell it on the dark web or use it to open a new credit card among other benefits. Though this happens often , dealing with it is a headache. Its important to stay calm and go about the situation promptly and with diligence.
To clarify and streamline the process of what to do if your Social Security number is stolen, GOBankingRates consulted with personal finance experts.
Heres what we learned you should do.
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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
The Basics Of Social Security Identity Theft
Social Security identity theft is a form of identity theft in which someone uses your Social Security number to apply for credit, open new accounts or commit other fraud. This can happen if your Social Security number is stolen in a data breach, through phishing emails or by simply being written down somewhere where it can be easily accessed by others.
Common Tactics of Social Security Identity Theft
There are a few common tactics that are used in Social Security identity theft. One of the most common is opening new accounts in your name. This can be done by using your Social Security number to apply for credit cards or loans. Another common tactic is using your Social Security number to file for unemployment or disability benefits. This can be done by setting up a fake account using your information and then collecting the benefits that are meant for you. Here are a few ways in which identity thieves can get a hold of your Social Security number to commit their crimes:
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Why Is My Medicare More Than My Husbands
Thats because the 2017 cost of living adjustment, or COLA, was 0.3 percent, and Social Securitys hold harmless rule limits your higher Part B premiums to this amount. Im guessing you have higher Social Security benefits than your husband, so your Part B premium this year will also be higher than his.
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How To Apply Online For Just Medicare
Are you within three months of turning age 65 or older and not ready to start your monthly Social Security benefits yet? You can use our online retirement application to sign up just for Medicare and wait to apply for your retirement or spouses benefits later. It takes less than 10 minutes, and there are no forms to sign and usually no documentation is required.
To find out what documents and information you need to apply, go to the .
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Check Your Banking Relationships
You will also want to check your major banking relationships because a stolen SSN could be just the beginning of a larger identity theft scheme aimed at your financial accounts, Pierson said. At a minimum, be sure to change your password and access to each of your bank accounts. Make sure your financial accounts also have dual-factor authentication turned on so that no one else can gain access to the account.
Medicare Starts Replacing Social Security Numbers On Id Cards
Medicare beneficiaries are getting new ID cards soon that wont carry their Social Security numbers, the Health and Human Services Department said Tuesday.
Congress had told HHS to get the cards replaced by 2019 to fight identity theft. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services said people will start getting new cards next April.
Personal identity theft affects a large and growing number of seniors, CMS said in a statement.
People age 65 or older are increasingly the victims of this type of crime. Incidents among seniors increased to 2.6 million from 2.1 million between 2012 and 2014, according to the most current statistics from the Department of Justice.
Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for people over 65, covers about 57 million Americans.
The Medicare Beneficiary Identifier is confidential like the SSN and should be protected as personally identifiable information, CMS said. The new identifier will be 11 characters long and will include letters and numbers.
Maggie Fox is a senior writer for NBC News and TODAY, covering health policy, science, medical treatments and disease.
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