Social Security Fraud Misuse Or Impersonation
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How To Protect Yourself: Identity Theft
Identity theft is a serious problem that affects millions each year. When an imposter uses your name, Social Security number , credit card number or any other form of personal information without your knowledge and permission, its a crime.
Unfortunately, sometimes victims remain unaware that their identity has been stolen until they receive monthly statements for credit card accounts they never applied for, credit reports including unfamiliar debts or monthly statements that include unauthorized charges.
If someone has stolen your identity, immediately take these three steps:
Take control of your identity.
Although identity thieves can destroy your personal finances, there are some things you can do to take control of the situation.
Some ways to handle the most common forms of identity theft are:
A- If an identity thief has stolen your mail for access to new credit cards, bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers and tax information or falsified change-of-address forms, that person has committed a crime. Report it to your local postal inspector. You may contact the United States Postal Inspection Service online at .
G- If any identity thief is using your name or SSN to obtain a drivers license, report it to your states Department of Motor Vehicles. Also, if your state uses your SSN as your drivers license number, ask to substitute another number.
Report The Fraud To The Three Major Credit Bureaus
You can report the identity theft to all three of the major credit bureaus by calling any one of the toll-free fraud numbers below. You will reach an automated telephone system and you will not be able to speak to anyone at this time. The system will ask you to enter your Social Security number and other information to identify yourself. The automated system allows you to flag your file with a fraud alert at all three bureaus. This helps stop a thief from opening new accounts in your name. The alert stays on for 90 days. Each of the credit bureaus will send you a letter confirming your fraud alert and giving instructions on how to get a copy of your credit report. As a victim of identity theft, you will not be charged for these reports. Each report you receive will contain a telephone number you can call to speak to someone in the credit bureaus fraud department.
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Types Of Social Security Fraud
Social Security fraud can be categorized in different ways:
Social Security benefits fraud occurs when an individual applies for Social Security benefits and intentionally provides bogus application information.
Shielding or Concealing Personal Information
Concealing personal data or information that could impact Social Security payments and benefits is another form of Social Security fraud. Accepting Social Security income for a child not under one’s care and supervision is a good example of “concealment” fraud.
When an individual steals or otherwise directly benefits from Social Security payments, while acting as a representative for a legitimate beneficiary who is incapacitated, that constitutes Social Security fraud. Stealing the identity of, or otherwise impersonating a Social Security Administration staffer or manager, is also considered Social Security fraud.
Purchase or Sale of Social Security IDs and Data
This form of Social Security fraud is defined as the buying and selling of Social Security cards, or Social Security information, on the black market or dark web.
Illegitimate Deceased Benefits Fraud
Failure to notify the Social Security Administration of the death of a family member beneficiary while continuing to accept the deceased’s Social Security benefits counts as Social Security fraud.
Supplemental Social Security Fraud
Representative Payee Fraud
“Failure to Report” Fraud
How Do You Know If Someone Is Using Your Social Security Number Fraudulently
Your correct Social Security number doesn’t actually appear on your credit reports to protect your identity, but if any other Social Security numbers are attached to your name, those will appear in your personal information section.
An incorrect number doesn’t necessarily indicate fraud. For instance, someone could misread or mistype a number when reporting it to the credit bureaus. It’s important to look into it immediatelyboth with the creditor and the credit bureau. You can get a free copy of your Experian credit report here on Experian.com and you’re also eligible to get one free report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Also, if you see inquiries or new accounts on your credit report, you may have had your Social Security number compromised. SSNs can fall in the wrong hands if you’re a part of a data breach and your SSN is included in the hacked or stolen records. Identity thieves can also buy and sell your Social Security number on the dark web.
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Stolen Social Security Numbers And Identity Theft
According to Javelin Research, for the first time ever, Social Security numbers were compromised more than credit card numbers in personal data breaches.
Identity theft occurs when personal data is stolen from an individual with the intention of committing fraud. Stolen data that can be used for fraud includes your name, date of birth, Social Security number , or your driver’s license and credit cards, according to the U.S. SSA.
“To a thief, your SSN is usually the key to unlocking your identity,” the SSA notes. “Identity thieves can use your Social Security number and your good credit to apply for loans, credit cards, and other benefits in your name. Identity thieves then use the credit cards without paying the bills, thereby damaging your finances, credit history, and reputation.”
Once an identity thief has a victim’s Social Security number, the fraudster can use it to obtain medical benefits, file a fraudulent state or federal tax refund, apply for new credit and/or credit cards, or steal your disability or other benefits.
Do You Really Need A New Card
Before ordering a new card, though, consider whether you need one. Youll rarely need to show your Social Security card to anyone. You might have to provide your Social Security number, but you dont need your physical card to do this.
If you do get a new card, be careful with it. Dont put it in your wallet where you might lose it again. Instead, keep it at home in a safe place.
And remember, you arent guaranteed an unlimited supply of Social Security cards. The Social Security Administration says that you can request a maximum of three replacement Social Security cards a year and 10 over your lifetime.
Would you know if your Social Security number was being used?
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Place A Fraud Alert On Your Credit Reports
- Trans Union : 680-7289
Request that your credit report be flagged with a fraud alert and add to your report a statement that you are a victim of fraud and that all creditors should contact you at a phone number you provide to verify all future applications. Each of the major credit bureaus may have different procedures, so ask each one how long the fraud alert will remain on your report and the circumstances under which that period may be extended. You should also request a written copy of your report to review and verify that each piece of credit information is valid.
Placing a fraud alert may not necessarily prevent the fraud from resuming. Some creditors may not see these alerts if they do not obtain your full consumer report, but rather rely on a credit score or another automated credit application system.
What Can A Thief Do With My Social Security Number
There are numerous things that a thief can do with your SSN, and none of them are good. One of the most common things that happen when someone is using your Social Security number is opening credit accounts in your name. They might get credit cards, bank accounts, or loans in your name and use them to purchase items. A thief might even use your SSN to file a fraudulent tax return with the Internal Revenue Service. Taking this action could allow them to receive a large tax refund, and then you might be on the hook later for the fraudulent return.
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If Your Mail Was Stolen Or Your Address Changed By An Identity Thief
Notify the Postal Inspector if you think an identity thief has stolen your mail or filed a change of address request in your name. To find the nearest Postal Inspector, look in the white pages of the telephone book for the Post Office listing under United States Government. Or go to the Postal Inspection Services Web site at .
Review Your Credit Reports Carefully
When you receive your credit reports, read them carefully. Look for accounts you dont recognize. Look in the inquiries section for names of creditors from whom you havent requested credit. You may find some inquiries identified as promotional. These occur when a company has gotten your name and address from a credit bureau to send you an offer of credit. Promotional inquiries are not signs of fraud. Also, as a general precaution, look in the personal information section to verify your Social Security number, address and name.
If you find anything you dont understand, call the credit bureau at the telephone number listed on the report. Tell them you want to block, or remove, any information on the report that is the result of identity theft. For more on what to tell the credit bureaus, see the Privacy Rights Clearinghouses Identity Theft: What to Do When It Happens to You.
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How To Get A New Social Security Number#
Many stolen Social Security numbers are used simply to gain employment, with no detrimental effect to the legitimate holders of the SSN. But others are used to defraud banks, retailers, the IRS and other government agencies, which could trash your credit.If several years pass after the theft of your Social Security number, and the problems arising from the theft have not gotten any better, then you may want to apply for a new SSN. But before you take that step, there are several things to consider.
S To Take If Your Social Security Number Has Been Stolen
If your Social Security number has been stolen, report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission and the police, freeze your credit report and contact companies you suspect have your SSN due to fraud.
Through December 31, 2023, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.
In this article:
If your Social Security number has been stolen, you’ll need to act quickly to reduce the damage fraudsters can commit. It’s important to report the theft to the proper authorities and secure your credit and personal information. Then, you’ll want to take additional measures to continue protecting your identity.
The number of data compromises in the U.S. was up 68% in 2021 from the previous year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Cyberattacks in particular are becoming more common, putting SSNs and other personal information at greater risk of theft and eventual use in fraud. Here are steps you should take if your SSN and related information become compromised.
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How To Report Social Security Fraud
In addition to reporting any lost Social Security card or stolen Social Security number, if you’re the victim of Social Security fraud or you know of someone committing Social Security fraud, you’ll also want to file a report with The Office of the Inspector General. They investigate all fraud, waste and abuse related to the SSA.
What Should I Do If I Think Someone Is Using My Social Security Number
If you think someone is using your Social Security number , there are several actions you can take.
- Review the earnings posted to your record on your Social Security Statement and report any inconsistencies to us.
- Contact the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-908-4490 or visit them online, if you believe someone is using your SSN to work, get your tax refund, or other abuses involving taxes.
- Order free credit reports annually from the three major credit bureaus . Make a single request for all three credit bureau reports at Annual Credit Report Request Form, or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
- File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.
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If Someone Uses Your Social Security Number To Claim Unemployment Benefits Or To Work
If you suspect that someone else has claimed unemployment benefits using your Social Security number, call the California Employment Development Departments toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-800-229-6297. For more information, see their Web site at www.edd.ca.gov. Search on the site for “fraud.” Sometimes, an identity thief will use someone elses Social Security number to be eligible to work. Its a good idea to check your Social Security earnings record to see if income earned by a thief is being posted to your account. You can get a copy of your earnings record by calling 1-800-772-1213. Or get a Request for Social Security Statement at www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7004.html. If you believe a thief is using your Social Security number to work or claim Social Security benefits, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. Or report Social Security benefits fraud online at .
Report Identity Theft To Other Organizations
You can also report the theft to other organizations, such as:
Credit Reporting Agencies – Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit report. Also get copies of your credit reports, to be sure that no one has already tried to get unauthorized credit accounts with your personal information. Confirm that the credit reporting agency will alert the other two credit reporting agencies.
National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center – Report cases of identity theft due to a stay in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Financial Institutions – Contact the fraud department at your bank, credit card issuers and any other places where you have accounts.
Retailers and Other Companies – Report the crime to companies where the identity thief opened credit accounts or even applied for jobs.
State Attorney General Offices – Check with your state’s attorney general office for tips, checklists, or an advocate to help you recover from identity theft.
You may need to get new personal records or identification cards if you’re the victim of ID theft. Learn how to replace your vital identification documents after identity theft.
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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.
If You Are Contacted By A Debt Collector
Tell the debt collector that you are the victim of identity theft. Say that you dispute the validity of the debt. Say that you did not create the debt and are not responsible for it. Send the collector a follow-up letter saying the same things. Include a copy of your police report and of any documents youve received from the creditor. Write in your letter that you are giving notice to a claimant under California Civil Code section 1798.93, subsection that a situation of identity theft exists. Send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. If the debt collector is not the original creditor, be sure to send your letter within 30 days of receiving the collectors first written demand for payment.
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