Your Social Security Number is a precious piece of information. It helps you get a job, apply for loans, and get a driver’s license or passport. While it’s invaluable to you, your SSN is even more valuable to identity thieves.
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My SSN was stolen – What now?
Identity thieves can sell your Social Security Number to people trying to hide their identities, or to undocumented workers. Even worse, if he has supplemental information, like your full name or home address, that identity thief can steal money, property, even medical coverage from you and the government!
In May 2017, the major credit bureau, Equifax, suffered a significant data security breach that compromised the security of over 147 million people’s personal information. While identity theft has always been a concern, the Equifax incident left millions of people even more fearful of the possibility of their SSN being stolen.
A data breach is just one way out of many that a thief could obtain your personal information. Other “old school” ways they can compromise your privacy is by posing as a fraudulent representative of a trusted organization, going through your mail, or rifling through documents in your trash can. But don’t worry!
What to do if someone has your social security number?
If you believe that someone has your social security number, you can:
- Report Missing File
- Request a Credit Freeze
- Contact Fraud Departments
The very first thing you should do is contact the relevant government agencies. You can start with the Social Security Administration, but they will direct you to IdentityTheft.gov, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) website for identity theft reports. It’s also a good idea to file a police report at your jurisdiction’s station to cover all your bases. A police report can be a critical document to have on hand while you clean up the mess left behind, even if the city or county can’t investigate the crime directly.
Request a Credit Freeze
A credit freeze may be inconvenient, but it’s necessary. You will need to contact each one of the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – to place the freeze on your credit file. It’s free to do, and it lasts indefinitely until you request to cancel the freeze.
When the freeze goes into effect, no lenders can access your credit file without getting your approval first. While this is effective, it can also be a hindrance if you plan to open a new bank account, move, or buy a car. You will have to contact the three major credit bureaus to suspend your credit freeze temporarily, complete the transaction (purchase the new car, for example), then contact the credit bureaus again to reinstate your credit freeze. Whew!
In addition to requesting a credit freeze, you can also request a fraud alert with the credit bureaus – and this time, you only need to contact one of the three! However, fraud alerts are not quite as effective. With a fraud alert in place, anyone pulling your credit report is requested to contact you first for approval – but they’re not mandated to.
You can renew a fraud alert for free every year, if it helps you gain a bit more peace of mind. If you filed a police report regarding your identity theft, you’re eligible to request an extended fraud alert that will last for up to seven years.
Contact Fraud Departments
If you suspect that your SSN has been used fraudulently at any organization, contact their fraud department ASAP! Each company will have their own guidelines and protocols in place for handling identity theft, so notify them as quickly as possible to begin those processes.
Close all fraudulent accounts that you discover and contact the company holding the account. Keep records of each one and report them to the credit bureaus as well as the company holding each fraudulent account. Official records of the fraudulent accounts will be critical in getting a new Social Security Number, so be sure to report them all and keep a personal record of each one as well.
After all is said and done, you may opt for a new Social Security Number. While that is totally understandable, be prepared! Your old number doesn’t just “go away,” and you will still have to monitor it for theft occurrences; it’s always linked to your name, as far as the government is concerned. Once an SSN has been issued, the government will never invalidate it.
If you feel that you have enough evidence and documentation to plead your case for a new Social Security Number, you can begin filling out an application here!
There are many things what to do if Social Security Number(SSN) is being used by someone other than you. Just follow instructions above and you don’t have to worry about anything. If you have any other questions feel free to leave comment below.