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Cover of the publication 'Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number.Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number

 

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. When a dishonest person has your Social Security number, the thief can use it to get other personal information about you. Most of the time identity thieves use your number and your good credit to apply for more credit in your name. Then, they use the credit cards and do not pay the bills. You do not find out that someone is using your number until you are turned down for credit, or you begin to get calls from unknown creditors demanding payment for items you never bought.

Someone illegally using your Social Security number and assuming your identity can cause a lot of problems.

Contents

Your number is confidential
Don't make it easy for someone to steal your number
Be careful with your Social Security card and number to prevent theft
How can I report that someone is using my Social Security number?
What if I think someone is using my number and creating credit problems for me?
Getting a new Social Security number
Contacting Social Security

Your number is confidential

Your Social Security number and our records are confidential. We do not give your number to anyone, except when authorized by law. You should be careful about sharing your number with anyone who asks for it (even when you are provided with a benefit or service).

Don’t make it easy for someone to steal your number

Identity thieves get your personal information by:

Stealing wallets, purses and your mail (bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers, telephone calling cards and tax information);

Stealing personal information you provide to an unsecured site on the Internet, from business or personnel records at work and personal information in your home;

Sorting through trash for personal data;

Posing as someone who legitimately needs information about you, such as employers or landlords; or

Buying personal information from “inside” sources. For example, an identity thief may pay a store employee for information about you that appears on an application for goods, services or credit.

Be careful with your Social Security card and number to prevent theft

Show your card to your employer when you start a job so your records are correct. Then, put it in a safe place. DO NOT carry your card with you.

How can I report that someone is using my Social Security number?

You should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by:

Internet— www.consumer.gov/idtheft

Telephone— 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338)

TTY—1-866-653-4261

If you think someone is using your number for work purposes, you should contact Social Security. One way to find out whether someone is using your number in order to work is to check your Social Security Statement. The Statement lists earnings posted to your Social Security record. If you find an error on your Statement, contact Social Security right away.

What if I think someone is using my number and creating credit problems for me?

If someone used your Social Security number to get credit, Social Security cannot fix your credit record. To fix your credit record:

Call the creditors who approved the credit (follow up with a letter).

File a police report.

Contact the fraud department of the major credit bureaus. Ask:

To have a flag placed on your record, requiring creditors to contact you before approving additional credit using your name and number;

How long your account will be flagged and how you can extend the flag, if necessary; and

To have a statement added to your credit report—include your name, explain the problem and provide a telephone number where someone can call you.

Request a copy of your credit report from each major credit bureau and check to see if it contains any entries you do not know about. If you are denied credit, you may be entitled to a free copy of your report.

The major credit reporting agencies are:

Equifax
www.equifax.com
Report fraud:
1-800-525-6285
Order a credit report:
1-800-685-1111
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian
www.experian.com
Report fraud:
1-888-397-3742
Order a credit report:
1-888-EXPERIAN
(1-888-397-3742)
P.O. Box 1017
Allen, TX 75013-0949

TransUnion
www.tuc.com
Report fraud:
1-800-680-7289
Order a credit report:
1-800-916-8800
Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834

Getting a new Social Security number

If you have done all you can to fix the problem and someone still is using your number, we may assign you a new number. We cannot guarantee that a new number will solve your problem.

You cannot get a new Social Security number if:

You filed for bankruptcy;

You intend to avoid the law or your legal responsibility; or

Your Social Security card is lost or stolen, but there is no evidence that someone is using your number.

Contacting Social Security

For more information, visit our website at www.socialsecurity.gov or call toll-free 1-800-772-1213 (for the deaf or hard of hearing, call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778). We can answer specific questions and provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day.

We treat all calls confidentially. We also want to make sure you receive accurate and courteous service. That is why we have a second Social Security representative monitor some telephone calls.

 

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