A social security number is a nine-digit number used to track your identity. The number has been entirely randomized since 2011 and is usually applied for at the time of your birth. If you commence new employment or apply for government-funded benefits, you will require your social security number to verify your identity.
You will find your social security number on your social security card. If you lose it, you have to get in touch with the Social Security Administration. It is also used every time you sign up for a new credit card, apply for a new passport, get your driver’s license, file your taxes, take out health insurance, or open a new bank account.
How Can Someone Steal My Social Security Number?
There are several ways that criminals look to steal people’s social security numbers. For example, thieves have found them by simply searching through trash to find personal documentation. Your social security number could also be at risk in the online sphere, with cybercriminals able to exploit data breaches and then either use your details themselves or sell them on the dark web.
How Do I Tell if Someone Has Stolen My Social Security Number?
Unfortunately, this type of crime can often be challenging to discover. People who steal a person’s social security number can use their identity for long periods without being found out. However, there are ways that you can check whether your social security number has been compromised.
The best way to find out if someone is using your identity or has stolen your social security number is by keeping a close eye on your credit report. Your credit report can make you aware of any unusual activity. For example, if you notice any accounts that do not belong to you, this could indicate that you are a victim of identity theft using your social security number.
What Can Someone Do With My Social Security Number?
Once your personal details have been discovered, thieves can either sell your identity to others or take advantage of services in your name. They can access medical care, file fraudulent tax returns, steal benefits, commit crimes, and open accounts in your name, all with your social security number.
Access to medical care
One thing you need to watch out for if someone steals your social security number is the possibility of them using it to gain access to medical care with your details. They may be able to undergo medical treatment using your identity, which will ultimately affect your personal medical records. Medical identity theft is a serious problem nowadays and has been continually growing in number of cases.
False information on your health records could lead to disastrous consequences. For example, if you needed a blood transfusion and the wrong blood type was given, it could be life-threatening. It can also impact your ability to access your medical insurance when you need it.
File fraudulent tax returns
A thief may be able to use your social security number to obtain a fraudulent tax refund in your name. Not only can this prevent any rightful tax rebates from going to you, but it can also taint your tax record.
Steal your benefits
A criminal can also claim social security benefits using your social security number. They could file for unemployment and other social services benefits, leaving you unable to access services should you need them at another time.
Commit crimes in your name
One of the most dangerous consequences of social security number theft is having crimes committed using your identifiers. If someone is arrested and produces your information to law enforcement, you become entangled in their criminal activity. This could have a significant impact on your ability to get a job, a loan, or even rent an apartment.
Open accounts in your name
A criminal can use your social security number to open bank accounts, take out credit cards, and loans in your name. This can adversely impact your credit score and leave you unable to secure financial loans in the future. As long as someone has your information, that someone may be able to open a credit card under your name without you knowing it.
Although you may be able to detect a social security number breach using your credit report, it won’t instantly wipe these transactions from your record. Even if you have been a victim of identity fraud, the damage done by the thief can take months or even years to recover from.
Can Someone Access My Bank Account Using My Social Security Number?
Although a criminal may be able to steal your social security number and use it to access medical care, benefits and take out new accounts in your name, it is more complex when accessing your existing accounts.
Luckily, identity thieves may find it quite challenging to access your bank accounts with your social security number. Most banks have requirements for additional pieces of identifying information to access your accounts, such as a passport utility bill. Most banks have added layers of security measures to prevent thieves from accessing your accounts, such as security questions and one-time passwords.
However, unfortunately, hackers can find identifying information and personal data to get into your accounts if you do not have the right kinds of protections in place on your computer or mobile device.
Read More: Full Review of Identity Guard
What Can I Do to Protect My Social Security Number?
There are a few things you can do to keep your personal information and identity safe. Keep all important documents, whether physical copies or digital, private and protected. Any record of your social security number online should be password protected. Take cyber safety steps such as having a good antivirus and malware software installed on your computer to ensure you do not fall victim to hackers. Advanced technology has been consistently abused and that’s why you must protect your identity as much as you can.
If you notice suspicious activity, report it immediately to the relevant government agencies. The Social Security Administration and Federal Trade Commission are good places to start. You should also file a police report. Another thing you can do is freeze your credit with major credit bureaus. This stops your credit cards from being accessible to lenders and prevents new accounts from being opened in your name.
If you suspect your social security number has been leaked or compromised, contact the fraud department of the company involved with the breach. You can protect yourself from these attacks with identity theft protection programs like Identity Guard and LifeLock and weight the pros and cons so you can decide which one to get.