S You May Want To Take To Protect Your Financial And Credit Information
We issued this notice without regard to age or other factors. Due to a lack of credit or other financial history, minor children, dependents, and some non-filers may not be able to use the protections below.
Review your earnings with the Social Security AdministrationEnsure their records are correct. You can create an account on their website which can assist you if an unauthorized person used your SSN.
- Monitor your credit reports and all financial accountsReview their accounts for signs of misuse of your personal information.
- Place a one-year fraud alert on your credit accountsContact one of the following three credit bureaus listed below. That bureau must tell the other two.
Is It Ok To Share Your Social Security Number
What privacy experts have to say about the ultimate password.
Social Security numbers are both the most private and most useful piece of personal information we have. In the US, they’re almost universally used as security checks. But that’s not what they were intended for. Issuing Social Security numbers began in the 1930s as a way to administer government retirement and disability benefits. Over the decades, though, the nine-digit codes have become essential when it comes to getting a credit card, a home and even a paycheck.
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.
Social Security Combats Fraud
Social Security has zero tolerance for fraud. We diligently work at the national, regional, and local levels to combat fraud that undermines our mission to serve the American public.
To meet this challenge, we work closely with the Office of the Inspector General which investigates allegations of fraud and seeks to bring offenders to justice. The OIG refers cases to U.S. attorneys within the Department of Justice, and other state and local prosecuting authorities, for prosecution as a federal crimes.
Visit our OIGs Investigations page to view a list of recent fraud investigations.
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Take 5 Steps For Better Online Security
In addition, its important to strengthen your online security to help avoid all types of online scams. Take action to improve your digital posture by following these steps:
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.
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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.
How Does Identity Theft Occur
Your personally identifying information may be compromisedthrough a variety of methods.
Dumpster Diving – Looking through your garbage for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.
Skimming – Skimmers are small electronic devices that can be easily concealed in a pocket and when your credit card is swiped through it, the device reads all of the information encoded on the magnetic strip on your card.
Phishing – Phishing scams are electronic mails sent from what appears to be a legitimate financial institution. They are devised to trick you into sending them account and password information. A common scam would be an email advising you that due to a security issue your bank would like you to confirm or reset your password.
Address Change – Your bills are diverted to another address where they are read or your mail is stolen from your mail box.
Theft – Your personally identifiable information is acquired through the theft of a wallet, purse, home burglary or car burglary.
Pretexting – Your are called or receive a text message from what appears and sounds like a legitimate financial institution in an attempt to trick you into revealing personally identifiable information.
Additional information can be found at:
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Protect Documents With Personal Information
If you have documents with your childs personal information, like medical bills or their Social Security card, keep them in a safe place, like a locked file cabinet.
When you decide to get rid of those documents, shred them before you throw them away. If you dont have a shredder, look for a local shred day.
Your Social Security Card
Whether youve lost your social security card or someone an acquaintance used the number, this is another common way that someone has obtained this information. Keeping your social security card safe, not keeping it in your wallet, and making sure that no one can get to it is another way to protect your identity.
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Review Your Medical Records And Report Errors
1. Get your medical records. Contact each doctor, clinic, hospital, pharmacy, laboratory, and health insurance company where the thief may have used your information. Explain the situation and ask for copies of these medical records. You may have to submit records request forms and pay fees to get copies of your records.
If the provider refuses to give you copies of the records to protect the identity thiefs privacy rights, you can appeal. Contact the person listed in your providers Notice of Privacy Practices, the patient representative, or the ombudsman. Explain the situation to that person and ask for your medical records.
2. Review your medical records. Look for any errors, like visits you didnt make and services you didnt get.
3. Report errors. Report any errors to your health care provider in writing. Include a copy of the medical record showing the incorrect information and explain why its incorrect. Send the letter in a way that lets you track it and confirm that someone received it, like certified mail.
Your health care provider must respond to your request within 30 days and must notify other health care providers who may have the same mistake in their records.
What Can I Do If My Child Is An Identity Theft Victim
The credit reporting agencies do not knowingly maintain credit files on minor children. If you suspect that your child’s information has been used fraudulently, you should notify the three major credit bureaus. You may be able to do this by calling the bureaus at the toll-free numbers below. Follow the cues for “fraud” on the automated phone systems.
Give the child’s name, Social Security number, and other requested information. The phone systems will probably give you a response of “no file found” or “information does not match.” This is good news. You should follow up by writing to the credit bureaus. Report the suspected identity theft and ask them to confirm in writing that they have no file on your child. Sample letters are at the back of this Information Sheet.
If there is a file in your child’s name, you will be told that a fraud alert is placed on the file. You will also be sent instructions on how to get a copy of the child’s credit report from each of the credit bureaus. There will be no charge for these copies.
What should I do when I receive a credit report on my child?
If any of the credit bureaus sends you a report, call the credit bureau at the number on the report. Explain that the report is associated with a minor who does not have a credit history. The credit bureau will help you begin the process of clearing your child’s credit records See Identity Theft Victim Checklist for more information.
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What To Do If You Are The Victim Of Ssn Identity Theft
Suppose you noticed one of the red flags mentioned above and confirmed that someone had fraudulently used your Social Security number. Now that you realize you have been the victim of Social Security identity theft, what do you do next? If your identity has been stolen, here are the steps you need to take.
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
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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.
What Are Signs That My Child May Be A Victim Of Identity Theft
Bills, credit cards or debt collection calls to your home in your child’s name may be signs of identity theft. If your child receives a pre-approved credit offer, it might mean that someone is using the child’s identity. But it might be just a marketing offer as a result of your opening a bank account or college fund in your child’s name. When opening a bank account for your child, ask the bank to remove your child’s name from marketing lists.
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Go To The My Social Security Page Of The Social Security Website
This page will allow you to sign in to your online account related to your Social Security. It is an online portal that will give you easy access to all the online Social Security Services. It will also allow you to check your account, change your address and verify your earnings, among other things. If you do not have an account yet, you can also create an account by going to this age.
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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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
Social Security Fraud Misuse Or Impersonation
|The Social Security Administration investigates reports like these:|
|Or call 1-800-269-0271.|
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Protect Yourself For The Future
Once you have notified the appropriate organizations, it is time to recover and reinforce your cybersecurity by implementing preventative measures.