With a Social Security Number ( SSN ), a thief can unlock everything from credit history and credit line to tax refunds and medical concern. In extreme cases, thieves can use it to impersonate others. so, if you suspect your number is lost or stolen, it ’ second crucial to report identity larceny to Social Security right off .
part of what makes an SSN so knock-down in identity larceny is that there ’ s only one like it. Unlike a compromised credit card, you can ’ thyroxine hop on the telephone and get a substitution. No question, the larceny of your SSN has serious implications. If you suspect it, report it. so, let ’ s take a spirit at how it can happen and how you can report identity larceny to Social Security if it does .
Can I change my Social Security number ?
Yes. Sort of. The Social Security Administration can assign a new SSN in a limited number of cases. however, per the SSA, “ When we assign a different Social Security count, we do not destroy the original number. We cross-refer the new number with the original count to make sure the person receives credit for all earnings under both numbers. ”
In early words, your SSN is effectively everlastingly, which means if it ’ second stolen, you ’ re hush faced with clearing up any of the malicious activity associated with the larceny potentially for quite some meter. That ’ second yet another argue why the protection of your SSN deserves especial care .
How does Social Security identity larceny happen ?
There are respective ways an SSN can end up with a thief. Some involve physical larceny, and others can take the digital route. To what extent are SSNs at risk ? notably, there was the Equifax breach of 2017, which exposed some 147 million SSNs. Yet just because an SSN has been potentially exposed does not mean that an identity crime has been committed with it .
so, let ’ s start with the basics : how do SSNs get stolen or exposed ?
- A helpless or misplaced wallet is one way, where you actually lose your SSN card or person steals it. This is one reason to avoid carrying it on your person unless absolutely necessary. differently, keep it stored in a safe and batten location until you need it, like when starting a new job .
- antique dumpster dive is another, where person will rummage through your pan, the folderol of a business, or even a public dump in search for personal data, which is why it ’ sulfur crucial to shred any documents that have personal data listed .
- People can simply overhear you provide your issue when you ’ re on a call or over the run of an in-person conversation. In our digital historic period, we may not think of eavesdropping as much of a threat, but it still very much is. That ’ mho why we powerfully recommend providing such info in a guarantee, private location out of earshot .
- SSNs can get stolen from a set of sour, where thieves end up with unbarred documents or information. The lapp could go for your family, which is another reason to secure your physical SSN cards and any data – physical or digital – that contains them .
- Phishing attacks can besides lead to SSN larceny, whether that ’ s through an attack aimed at you or at a business that has access to your personal information like SSNs .
- Data leaks, like the Equifax leak mentioned above, are another way. Yet while the Equifax breach involved millions of records, smaller breaches can expose SSNs equitable as readily, like the breaches that have plagued many healthcare providers and hospitals over the past year .
That ’ s quite the list. broadly speaking, the examples above give good reasons for keeping your SSN as private and procure as potential. With that, it ’ s helpful to know that there are alone a handful of situations where your SSN is required for legitimate purposes, which can help you can make decisions about how and when to give it out. The list of necessitate cases is relatively short, such as :
- When applying for recognition or a loan .
- Applying for or changing group health care coverage with an policy provider .
- Transactions that require IRS presentment, like working with investing firms, real estate of the realm purchases, car purchases, etc.
- Registering with a commercial enterprise as a full-time or contract employee ( for tax coverage purposes ) .
You ’ ll notice that places like doctor ’ second offices and other businesses are not listed hera, though they ’ ll frequently request an SSN for recognition purposes. While there ’ s no jurisprudence preventing them from asking you for that data, they may refuse to work with you if you do not provide that information. In such cases, ask what the SSN would be used for and if there is another form of identification that they can use alternatively. In all, your SSN is uniquely yours, indeed be extremely timid in order to minimize its potential exposure to larceny .
How to report identity larceny to Social Security in three steps
Let ’ s say you spot something unusual on your credit report or get a telling that person has filed a tax reappearance on your behalf without your cognition. These are potential signs that your identity, if not your SSN, is in hazard, which means it ’ s prison term to act right off using the steps below :
1. Report the larceny to local and union authorities .
File a patrol report and a Federal Trade Commission ( FTC ) Identity Theft Report. This will help in case person uses your social Security number to commit fraud, since it will provide a legal record of the larceny. The FTC can besides assist by guiding you through the identity larceny recovery work a well. Their site very is an excellent resource .
2. Contact the businesses involved .
Get in touch with the fraud department at each of the businesses where you suspect larceny has taken set, let them know of your site, and follow the steps they provide. With your police and FTC reports, you will already have a couple of vital pieces of information that can help you clear your list .
3. Reach the Social Security Administration and the IRS .
Check your Social Security score to see if person has gotten a job and used your SSN for employment purposes. Reviewing earnings associated with your SSN can uncover deceitful use. You can besides contact the Social Security Fraud Hotline at ( 800 ) 269-0271 or reach out to your local SSA office for further, ongoing aid. Likewise, contact the Internal Revenue Service at ( 800 ) 908-4490 to report the larceny and help prevent person from submitting a tax render in your identify .
What do I do adjacent ? Ongoing steps to take .
As we ’ ve talked about in some of my other blog posts, identity larceny can be a long-run problem where follow-up instances of larceny can snip up over meter. however, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the damage and ensure it doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate happen again. I cover several of those steps in detail in this blog here, even let ’ s take a expect at a few of the circus tent items as they relate to SSN larceny :
Consider placing a fraud alert .
By placing a imposter alert, you can make it harder for thieves to open accounts in your name. space it with one of the three major credit chest of drawers ( Experian, TransUnion, Equifax ), and they will notify the other two. During the year-long fraud alert period, it will require businesses to verify your identity before issuing new credit in your name .
Look into an all-out credit freeze .
A wax accredit freeze is in place until you lift it and will prohibit creditors from pulling your credit report wholly. This can help stop thieves all in in their tracks since approving credit requires pulling a report. however, this applies to legitimate inquires, including any that you make, like opening a new loanword or signing up for a credit circuit board. If that ’ s the case, you ’ ll motivation to take extra steps as directed by the particular institution or lender. Unlike the fraud alert, you ’ ll indigence to notify each of the three major accredit chest of drawers ( Experian, TransUnion, Equifax ) when you want the freeze lifted .
Monitor your credit reports .
once every 12 months, you can access a free credit report card from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. ( And as of this write during the pandemic, this can be done for barren on a weekly basis, which is big newsworthiness. ) Doing indeed will allow you to spot any future discrepancies and offer you options for correcting them.
Sign up for an identity protection servicing .
Using a service to help protect your identity can monitor respective types of personally identifiable information and alert you of potentially unauthorized use. Our own Identity Protection Service will do all this and more, like offering guided aid to neutralize threats and prevent larceny from happening again. You can set it up on your computers and smartphone to stay in the know, address issues immediately, and keep your identity secured .
Your most singular identifier calls for extra concern and protection
Of all the forms of identity larceny, the larceny of a Social Security Number is surely one of the most potentially afflictive because it can unlock so many full of life aspects of your life. It ’ s uniquely you, even more than your name alone – at least in the eyes of creditors, banks, policy companies, criminal records, etc. Your SSN calls for extra protective covering, and if you have any concerns that it may have been lost or stolen, don ’ metric ton hesitate to spring into legal action .