September 28, 2016

How to Protect Yourself against a Stolen Social Security Number

So the worst has come to pass and your social security number has been stolen.  Somebody out there could steal your social security payments, do criminal acts in your name, get a job with your name or open up new accounts.  How do you protect yourself once the deed is done?

Contact Authorities

Filing a police report is a good start, but there are other steps you should be taking.  First, you should file a complaint with the FTC’s ID Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338.  Next, you should go to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.  Next, you should call the IRS and speak to their Identity Protection Unit.  This will let a variety of organizations involved with your SSN know that there is a problem.  Doing this promptly, along with setting the normal round of credit alerts, can ensure that the thief doesn’t get very far with your information.

Keep Watching Your Credit

When someone steals your SSN it’s time to watch your credit like a hawk.  This will allow you to leap on new accounts quickly and get them closed down before the thief has time to do much damage.  You should do this even after placing a fraud alert on your credit reports; things do slip through the cracks.  In some states you can even freeze your credit entirely.  This keeps you from opening up new accounts yourself but will certainly prevent others from doing so.

Monitor Your Earnings

Every year the Social Security Administration puts out a statement of earning that lists your yearly earnings.  If something seems off about your earnings you should contact them right away.  This means someone has obtained a job with your SSN and the money, in turn, is being reported to the Social Security Administration.  As the person with your SSN can try to wrest your benefits from you later you don’t want to just leave this error alone, however beneficial it might initially seem to be.  Identity theft cases that get out of control can turn into long disputes about who actually owns the number—something that is not at all easy to prove.  If you end up having to apply for a new social security number as a result you could lose out on all of those earnings later.

Appeal for a New Number

It’s very, very difficult to get a new social security number.  You have to prove that you have taken every possible step to protect yourself against misuse of your number.  You also have to prove that your number is still being used in a harmful way that directly impacts you.  You cannot get a new number simply for losing your card or having it stolen.  You have to go into the Social Security office in person in order to do this.

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