What To Do If Scammers Steal Your Social Security Number

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Identity theft is surging.

We have had several friends who have had their Social Security Numbers (SSN) stolen, and it has wreaked havoc on their financial stability.  Criminals who obtain your SSN can use it to establish credit at banks, access websites, use government services like Medicare and Medicaid, apply for credit cards and mortgages, and place it on the Dark Web (the black market of the internet) to sell to other identity thieves. and more.  I have received several phone calls and many emails from scammers pretending to be from the Washington, D.C. office of the Social Security Administration. They are very good at what they do, so be alert.

What to do to protect your SSN:

Routinely shred all credit card bills, bank statements and any other mail that might help a trash thief get your personal information.

Keep your SS card, birth certificate and passport in a secure location and do not carry them around with you in your wallet.

Never write your driver’s license or Social Security number on a check.

Never share your Social Security number, even if you are asked for it.  Ask why you’re being asked for the number, how it will be used and what will happen if you refuse.  Your SSN should be given only to your financial institution for tax reporting purposes, and your employer so your records are correct.

Be alert to telephone or email scams from people posing as someone who legitimately needs information about you – employers, landlords, credit card companies or government agencies.

If you are worried that you or an older friend or relative might be a fraud target, check out Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology’s online financial vulnerability survey.  www.olderadultnestegg.com

What to do if you think someone has stolen your SSN:

  • Report the identity theft immediately to your police precinct, and the Social Security Administration fraud hotline at (800) 269-0271.
  • Freeze your credit with the three credit bureaus – for free. We leave a credit freeze in place and lift it only if we are engaged in a transaction where the other party needs access to our credit report, like buying a house, for example. Click here for more information about credit freezes.
  • If you suspect someone else is using your SSN, visit Identity Theft.gov and get a recovery plan. This is a one-stop resource managed by the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency.  You can also call 1-877-IDTHEFT.
  • Contact the Internal Revenue Service in case someone using your SSN goes after your tax refund. Go to irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection or call them at 1-800-908-4490.
  • File an online complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.
  • AARP has trained fraud specialists who provide support and guidance on what to do. Call 877-908-3360.

To obtain a new SSN:

Contact Social Security at www.ssa.gov or call at 1-800-772-1213.

To be eligible to receive a new SSN, you must have evidence that someone other than you is using your SSN.

You will need to prove your identity, age and U.S. citizenship or immigration status.

Going forward:

If you receive a new SSN, you must change the records that the DMV, credit reporting companies, your bank,  employer and anyone legitimate have with the old number.

Make a habit of ordering free credit reports annually from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).  You can make a single request for all three reports at Annual Credit Report Request Form or by calling 1-877-322-8228.  Ginny’s husband once checked his credit reports and discovered that someone had applied for a loan under his name.

The post What To Do If Scammers Steal Your Social Security Number appeared first on Sharp Eye.

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