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How to Report Identity Theft to Social Security

Did you know that in 2018, identity thieves stole $3.4 billion from consumers by using their social security numbers to open new accounts?

No, that's not a typo: social security number theft has become a multi-billion dollar industry. That's because gaining access to your social security number allows an identity thief to:

  • Withdraw money from your checking and savings accounts
  • Apply for credit cards and payday loans in your name
  • Take your tax refunds, disability benefits, Medicare benefits, survivors' benefits, retirement benefits, and SSI income

According to Consumer Affairs, account take-overs like these are more common now than ever. But if your identity has been stolen, don't despair.

By dealing with this issue as soon as possible, you may be able to reduce the personal and financial costs associated with social security number theft.

Keep reading to learn what to do if your identity is stolen and how to report identity theft to social security - and how to get a new social security card. Make sure you know where your nearest social security office locationsare to get a head start!

Step #1: Contact the FTC About Your Social Security Number Theft

If you suspect that you've given your social security number to the wrong person - or if you have proof that someone else is using your social security number to open financial accounts without your permission - you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://identitytheft.gov/SSA.

The FTC will ask you what kind of account(s) the identity thieves have applied for in your name, then walk you everything that you need to do in order to regain control of them.

This process may involve:

  • Getting in touch with the companies that hold fake accounts in your name, and asking them to close or freeze them
  • Changing the login/PIN information for your accounts
  • Putting a one-year fraud alert on your credit report
  • Fighting bogus charges on your credit cards or debit card
  • Obtaining a new credit report, so you can make sure that identity thieves haven't opened any additional credit cards in your name
  • Rehabilitating your credit score by letting all three major credit bureaus know about your social security number theft

If you don't have access to a computer or prefer to use the phone, you can report social security number theft by calling the FTC at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).

Step #2: Report Your Social Security Number Theft to the IRS

Once your social security number has been stolen, you don't merely have to worry about credit card fraud. Unfortunately, you may also become a victim of tax-related identity theft.
For this reason, you shouldn't delay contacting the IRS to let them know that your social security number may be at risk.

The IRS will be able to advise you on what to do if:

  • Your online tax return is refused, because someone else has already filed a return using your social security number
  • You didn't receive the tax refund you were expecting (or were told that you owe back taxes, despite the fact that you weren't obligated to file last year)
  • You're being asked to pay taxes on wages received from an employer you didn't work for

You can report social security number theft to the IRS online by following these directions or by calling 1-800-908-4490.

Step #3: File a Complaint with the IC3

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) handles online crimes, such as the phishing scams that identity thieves use to steal social security numbers.

Did your social security number theft involve email, text, or social media fraud? If so, you can ensure that the fraudsters who victimized you will get investigated by law enforcement by reporting the incident to the IC3.

After you file a complaint, the IC3 will:

  • Have their FBI-trained analysts research your social security number theft
  • Share information about your identity theft with the appropriate federal, state, local, or international law enforcement agencies
  • Use your report to raise consumer awareness about similar scams

You can get started with your IC3 complaint by filling out the form.

Should You Contact Local Law Enforcement Directly?

Although the IC3 will direct your complaint to the appropriate regulatory agencies, they encourage you to contact local law enforcement directly if you have a complaint that's time-sensitive.

Some credit card companies won't dismiss fraudulent charges until you've filed a police report. Therefore, taking the time to contact your local police department, in addition to the IC3, may be in your best interest.

Step #4: Freeze Your Credit

While your primary concern right now might be figuring out how to report identity theft to social security, one of our best tips for social security number prevention is to never neglect your credit!

It may feel like closing the barn door after the horses have bolted, but freezing your credit now will prevent identity thieves from putting any further charges on your credit cards - and from applying for new credit cards in your name.

You can freeze your credit for free via the National Consumer Telecommunications and Utilities Exchange, or by calling each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax (1-800-349-9960), TransUnion(1-888-909-8872) andExperian(1-888-397-3742).

Note: After your credit freeze is in place, you'll be fully protected, but you won't be able to apply for a loan, obtain a line of credit, or do anything else that requires a credit check, such as renting an apartment.

For your own convenience, we recommend unfreezing your credit after you've resolved the issues caused by your social security number theft.

Step #5: Change All Your Passwords

To guard against any future social security number thefts, you must increase the security of all your online accounts.

Cybersecurity experts advise that you get started by changing all of your passwords.

A truly safe password:

  • Is unique (i.e., you don't use it for any other accounts)
  • Contains letters, numbers, AND symbols
  • Doesn't reference anything that's guessable by hackers, such as your home address, mother's maiden name, or children's names

You can further safeguard your accounts via two-factor authentication. This process won't let users into your account unless they can answer a secret question or provide a secret pin number.

Virus Protection Software & Identity Theft-Monitoring Services

In your quest to protect your personal information, antivirus software can be a powerful tool. If you or a family member visit a website that's infected with malware or open an email that contains a virus, antivirus software will prevent it from revealing your data to identity thieves.

You can also opt to pay for a monthly identity theft-monitoring service. This type of service will alert you if someone:

  • Puts in a change of address request under your name
  • Orders utilities, cable TV, or wi-fi in your name
  • Applies for a payday loan in your name
  • Tries to cash a check that's made out to you
  • Sets up a social media account in your name
  • Mentions your name on the "dark" web (the part of the internet where identity thieves sell social security numbers and personal information)

According to the FTC, not all identity-monitoring services are equally effective. They recommend asking such companies about:

  • The types of information they monitor
  • Whether they check consumer databases frequently
  • Whether there are any hidden fees associated with their service

Step #6: Learn the Warning Signs of Phone, Email & Text Scams

No guide on how to report identity theft to social security would be complete without a section that explains how to avoid social security number theft in the future.

The most important red flags for phone scams include:

  • Threats to imprison or deport you
  • So-called "issues" with your social security account
  • Demands that you resolve your social security number "issues" by wiring the caller money, mailing the caller cash, buying the caller a prepaid gift card, giving the caller money via Venmo, or sending Bitcoins to the caller

Text and email scam red flags are similar, with the difference that identity thieves sometimes try to make it seem as if a social media network or corporate brand like Netflix is contacting you, rather than a government agency.

They may also try to entice you to click on mysterious links. Please don't fall for this!

If someone tries to target you with a phone, email, or text scam, call the Office of the Inspector General's fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271. You can submit a report about the scam online.

Step #7: Apply for a New Social Security Card

Now that you've learned how to report identity theft to social security and stop scammers from abusing your personal information, it's time to get a new social security card.

This can be a frustrating process, especially if you'd prefer to not leave your home due to COVID-19.

Here's the good news: through NotYourSocialSecurity (NYSS), you can get a social security card remotely, without having to get off the couch. Even better, our E-Records tool takes the stress out of replacing your social security card.

Our experts help you to skip the long lines at the social security office. Discover just how easy social security card replacement can be - try our E-Records tool today.

Sources:

Consumer Affairs.2020 Identity Theft Statistics. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/finance/identity-theft-statistics.html#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20Center%20for,multiple%20incidents%20of%20identity%20fraud.

Federal Communications Commission. Protect Yourself from social security Number Spoofing Scams. https://www.fcc.gov/protect-yourself-social-security-number-spoofing-scams

Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Information. How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams

Federal Trade Commission: Consumer Information. What to Do Right Away.https://identitytheft.gov/Steps

Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center. Frequently Asked Questions. https://www.ic3.gov/faq/default.aspx

Internal Revenue Service. Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft.https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft

social security Administration. Identity Theft and Your social security Number.

https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10064.pdf

social security Administration. social security: Fraud Prevention and Reporting. https://www.ssa.gov/antifraudfacts/