Have you been asked to give your social security number? Here is what to do
Let’s face it: your social security number is probably out there. This federal ID number is used for so many purposes, from tax forms and credit applications to student information forms, that it exists in a myriad of places. And while organizations that ask for personally identifying information, including your Social Security Number (SSN), have an obligation to keep it as secure as possible, errors and cyber attacks do occur. Sometimes the person giving your SSN to a scammer is you.
Find out what to do if you are a victim of identity fraud, and learn more about Social Security number fraud and how to avoid it in the future.
What if you accidentally give someone your social security number?
No matter how or why it happened, if you give your SSN to someone you suspect to be a scammer (or think your SSN has been stolen for some other reason), act quickly. You could become a victim of identity theft. First, check your credit reports to make sure nothing is wrong with your accounts right now. If you find something, consider working with professionals such as Lexington Law to correct errors in your report.
Related: These Common Scams Target The Elderly: How To Avoid Them
Then take steps to protect yourself from fraudulent activity or identity theft in the future. Consider putting a fraud alert on your credit reports. This lasts 90 days and allows potential creditors to take additional steps to verify your identity when a credit application is processed. That means you’ll have to take extra steps if you’re applying for credit on your own, but the peace of mind can be worth it.
You can also invest in other identity theft protection products. These range from monitoring services that alert you to new activity to credit locks that prevent anyone, including you, from opening a new account in your name until the lock is lifted.
See: As an alleged $ 46 million online dating scam shows, lonely hearts are top target for scammers in America
If you’re concerned that someone has your Social Security number because you’ve misplaced your card, follow the correct channels to report the loss and apply for a new card. You will still need to follow the steps above, as SSNs do not work like credit card numbers. The Social Security office does not close your account or issue you a brand new number in the event of identity theft. They just send you a new card.
How do I check if someone is using my social security number?
Unfortunately, the only way to know if someone has your Social Security number is to use it. Identity thieves could use your SSN to get medical treatment on your behalf, open accounts in your name, claim a tax refund, or steal your government benefits. Checking your credit reports, monitoring your federal and state tax accounts, and keeping tabs on all of your other accounts is usually the best proactive defense. Once you believe you are a victim of SSN theft, take action to report it and deal with it immediately.
Can my social security number be suspended?
No, the Social Security office does not suspend numbers. Calls that tell you that your SSN number may be blocked or suspended for some reason are a scam. This is a common phone scam that involves someone asking you for personal information, including your SSN, so they can work with you to resolve the issue. In some cases, the person asks you to pay a fee to have your SSN reinstated.
The real result of these scams is that your identity is stolen and used for fraudulent purposes. In cases where you provide a credit card or bank account number to pay the fees, scammers can clean your account or charge a fee to your card.
Does Social Security sometimes contact you by phone?
The Social Security Administration confirms that in some special cases, he contacts people by phone to handle customer service issues. The representative may ask you to confirm certain personal information so that they know they can speak to you. However, the representative also provides a name and telephone extension.
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One of the best ways to make sure you’re talking to someone with SSA and not a scammer is to simply tell the person you’re going to hang up and call back. Ask for the person’s extension and call the SSA Customer Service line at 1-800-772-1213. Dial the extension, and if you reach the same person, the call is legitimate. Otherwise, it could be a Social Security scam.
The SSA notes that it never demands immediate payment from people over the phone and always provides for an appeal process if a debt is suspected to be owed. The SSA also does not accept forms of payment such as gift cards or threatens people with deportation or arrest. These are signs that it could be a scam.
Prevention is better than cure: an SSN motto
Since Social Security numbers are used for so many purposes, it’s usually best to play it safe. If you have reason to believe that your personal information has been breached or is used fraudulently, consider signing up for Credit.com’s services to anticipate any issues or enjoy peace of mind. You will be able to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.