What to Do When Someone Is Using Your Social Security Number
When an identity thief has a victim's Social Security number, he or she has a passport to commit Social Security fraud, identity theft, and many other crimes. This is one of the many reasons why people should never carry their Social Security cards in their wallets or purses. From the time of issuance when we're children, Social Security cards should be stored in a safe location at home, away from credit cards, drivers' licenses, and other personal information.
If you suspect that a criminal has your Social Security number, the Social Security Administration can help point you in the right direction, but it can't fix your credit. You're the only one who can do that. To that end, here are some things to do if someone is using your Social Security number to commit identity theft and Social Security fraud:
While identity theft is stressful, you're the only person who can help with this problem, and you can't solve it in a week or a month. It will take time. Stay as calm and focused as possible, and methodically address the problem.
2. Contact the credit reporting agencies.
Contact TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian to place a fraud alert on your credit report. Each agency is required to alert the other two when you place an alert. The alert will prevent a thief from opening any new accounts in your name.
3. Get a copy of your credit report.
The law requires each credit agency to provide you with a free copy of your credit report when you place a fraud alert. Examine each report carefully, and look for accounts in your name that you did not open.
Make a list of the creditors, and contact them by phone and again by mail. Write down the names of the people with whom you speak at each creditor and when. Also, keep a list of all correspondence with each creditor. Remember that you're building your own case and rebuilding your credibility and creditworthiness from scratch. Keeping accurate records is one of your best tools for recovering from identity theft.
5. Contact the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC has an Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338 and an online identity theft complaint form at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/.
6. Contact the Social Security Administration.
Fill out the SSA's online complaint form or call them at 1-800-269-0271 to report the activity.
If a thief has your Social Security number, it will take a while to recover from identity theftbut you should know that you're not alone in your struggle. Millions of people are victims of Social Security fraud every year, and there are resources out there to help you if you're willing to go out and get them.
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Protecting the Confidentiality of Social Security Numbers
The Social Security number (SSN) has a unique status as a privacy risk. No other form of personal identification plays such a significant role in linking records that contain sensitive information that individuals generally wish to keep confidential. The broad use and public exposure of SSNs has been a major contributor to the tremendous growth in recent years in identity theft and other forms of credit fraud. The need to significantly reduce the risks to individuals of the inappropriate disclosure and misuse of SSNs has led California to enact legislation to limit their use and display. California law is intended to deter public disclosure of social security numbers. It does not prohibit use of social security numbers for internal verification, or administrative purpose, or as otherwise required by law.
In compliance with California Civil Code Sections 1798.85-1798.86 and California Labor Code Section 226 California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and CSULB auxiliary organizations are prohibited from doing the following:
- Publicly posting or displaying an individual's SSN;
- Printing an individual's social security number on identification cards or badges;
- Requiring persons to transmit a SSN over the Internet unless the connection is secure or the SSN is encrypted;
- Requiring persons to log on to a web site using a SSN without a password;
- Printing SSNs on anything mailed to an individual unless required by law or the document is a form or application. When sending applications, forms, or other documents required by law to carry SSNs through the mail, the SSN shall be placed where it will not be revealed by an envelope window. A SSN may not be printed on a postcard;
- Encoding or embedding a social security number in a card or document, including using a bar code, chip, magnetic strip, or any other technology;
- Printing more than the last four digits of an employee's SSN on employee pay stubs or itemized statements.
In addition to complying with the legal requirements concerning the use and display of SSNs, CSULB and CSULB auxiliary organizations shall take the following measures to reduce the collection of SSNs, control access to SSNs, and protect SSNs with security safeguards:
10 Worst Places to Give Out Your Social Security Number
McAfee, an antivirus software company, recently released a list of the most dangerous places to give out your Social Security number. Many of the places will surprise you. It has seem common to give out your social security number as means of identification. However, that should not be the case. As a result, you unfortunately have to give your number to receive the following services:
- Universities & Colleges
- Banking & Financial Institutions
- State Governments
- Local Governments
- Federal Governments
- Medical Businesses
- Non-Profit Organizations
- Technology Companies
- Health Insurers & Medical Offices
Any institution that extends any type of credit is going to need the following information: name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number in order to verify your identity and complete a credit check.
Criminal hackers have mastered hacking into databases that contain Social Security numbers then using that information to open new financial accounts. Hackers can then use that number to obtain mobile phones, credit cards, and bank loans.
When you should and should not provide your Social Security number:
According to the Social Security Administration, you should:
- Show your card to your employer when you start a new job so your records are correct
- Provide your number to your financial institution(s) for tax reporting purposes
- Keep your card and any other document that shows your number on it in a safe place
- Do not routinely carry your card or other documents that display your number
In a world where it’s become all-too easy to lose your identity with a simple mouse click or telephone call, it’s important to keep your Social Security number and your livelihood safe. Contact us today for more information.
Is Your Social Security Number Safe from Prying Eyes?
Is Your Social Security Number Safe from Prying Eyes?
Approximately 15 million U.S. residents are impacted by identity theft each year. The financial losses are staggering––over $50 billion a year. According to the Social Security Administration, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. For identity thieves, your social security number is one of the hottest commodities around. A criminal who steals your social security number can use it to get other personal and sensitive information about you.
For example, a thief could use your social security number to apply for an increase in credit and then use the credit card to shop, but never pay the bills. You might not find out about the theft until you apply for credit somewhere, like buying a car, and are turned down. You could even get harassing credit collection phone calls for money you never spent.
Social security numbers are meant to be confidential and the Social Security Administration protects your information, except when authorized by law to share it. I do everything I can to keep my and my family’s social security numbers under lock and key, away from prying eyes. Nowadays when someone asks me for my full social security number or my kids’ numbers, I ask why they need it, what they plan to use it for, and what will happen if I don’t give it to them. If I don’t like their answers, I politely decline their request.
A good example of this might be when a medical practice asks you to fill out a “new patient” form. It’s not hard to imagine that someone working at a busy office might easily lose track of these forms, or worse, be tempted to sell patient’s social security numbers for cash.
I know. It’s a terrible thought, and it’s so awful to have to be so suspicious of people. But, better safe than sorry.
Here are some guidelines for keeping your social security number safe: