With technology performing more tasks for us every day, our identification information can be used to defraud a merchant, a bank, and us much more easily than you might think. The information that is most valuable to someone interested in trying to steal money through identity fraud is your Social Security Number (SSN). So much of your financial life is keyed into your SSN that it’s scary how much access a thief can gain if they find out your personal SSN.
You may not immediately think of someone using your SSN in these terms, but you should realize that by stealing and using your SSN,
What to Do If You Think Your Social Security Number Is Compromised
How do you find out if someone is using your SSN?
1). Contact one of the 3 major credit reporting agencies get a free credit report. The primary reason someone wants your SSN is to use it to pretend to be you for purchases and bank transactions. If someone is using your SSN without your knowledge, odds are they have used it to get credit from a merchant to buy things in your name. Each transaction and payment (or missed payment) will be reflected on your credit report. You are entitled to get a free credit report every year.
Here is how to contact the credit agencies:
- A). Experian: 888-397-3742
- B). Equifax: 888-378-4329
- C). TransUnion: 888-909-8872
If you see any activity that you do not recognize, notify the credit bureau immediately. The credit bureau you notify will automatically notify the other agencies to alert them to the potential fraud.
2. If you do identify any credit bureau activity or you receive any notice from a credit provider that you don’t recognize as relating to transaction you made, immediately Put A Freeze on your credit accounts. You can do this either directly through the credit provider or, more efficiently, through the credit report bureau you contacted.
3. Check your bank statements very carefully, either online or by reviewing your monthly paper statement. Under federal law, you have a limited time to report a suspected “unauthorized transfer of funds” before you will be liable for the money. Call a consumer protection attorney immediately to learn the steps you need to take and when. See Unauthorized Electronic Funds Transfers.
4. Get online and look at the Social Security and IRS websites to pull up your account. If you don’t already have an online account with either agency, you can sign up easily. Through the mysocialsecurity account website, you will find out if someone has submitted a false claim for benefits under your name.
You can find out from the IRS is someone has filed a fraudulent tax return to try to obtain your income tax refund or other IRS related payments you were expecting.
Each of these agencies can provide some valuable help and information. For example, the Social Security Administration can “lock your SSN” so no one can use it to open a new account or obtain any new access.
5. Report any suspicious or confirmed fraud incident to all of the following agencies:
- A). Local Police or state law enforcement agencies
- B). Federal Trade Commission (FTC), www.identitytheft.gov
- C). Social Security Administration (SSA) toll-free number at 1-800-269-0271
- D). Internal Revenue Service (IRS) https://www.irs.gov/identity-theft-central
What Can You Lose If Someone Else Has Your Social Security Number?
The damage you can suffer if someone uses your Social Security Number without your knowledge is substantial. Here are some of the most common ways in which you can be hurt financially:
- 1). Open new credit cards in your name and purchase goods and services with no intention of paying the bills, knowing they will show up as bad debts on your credit report,
- 1). Empty your bank account,
- 2). Open bank accounts in your name through which to run funds from criminal activity,
- 3). Apply for bank loans they intend to default on,
- 4). Impersonate you with the IRS to steal your tax refunds or other expected payments,
- 5). Obtain healthcare, surgeries, and other expensive medical services under your name, leaving you with huge unpaid bills,
- 6). Enter into a lease or rental agreement with property owners or car dealers, connect utility bills, and sign other agreements in your name,
- 7). Commit crimes and get arrested giving your name and SSN as identification,
- 8). Obtain fraudulent IDs from state and federal agencies, claiming they lost the original.
- 9). Apply for government benefits under your name and earning records (Social Security Disability, SSI, even early retirement).
London Eligibility Will Help You with All Your Social Security Issues
If you have questions about any aspect of your right to Social Security benefits, or how to protect yourself from Social Security scams and identity theft of your Social Security Number, contact us for all the information you need.