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How To Know When Someone Is Using Your Social Security Number?

Learn how to detect unauthorized use of your Social Security number with our comprehensive guide. Get expert advice on safeguarding your identity and taking swift action.

By Michael-Ibekie-headshot

Understanding the Risk of Social Security Number Theft

Your Social Security Number (SSN) is more than just a form of identification, it's the key to your financial and personal life. Protect yourself from identity theft by monitoring for new accounts in your name.

With identity theft on the rise, if someone is using your SSN, it can lead to fraud that drains your finances and tarnishes your reputation. Understanding the risk is the first step to protecting your identity against invisible thieves lurking in the shadows of the digital world.

Six Reasons You Should Care That Someone Can Use Your Social Security Number (SSN)

1). Open Financial Accounts In Your Name

When your Social Security number has been stolen, identity thieves can use your stolen SSN to open various financial accounts—credit cards, loans, and even bank accounts—under your name. This not only damages your credit score but can leave you with debts for purchases you never made.

When thieves have your Social Security Number (SSN) and some of your basic personal information (e.g., address, phone number, name and date of birth), it is quite easy for someone to assume your identity - and thus an important reason why you should care about protecting your data.

2). Get Medical Procedures That Affect Your Future Care

Medical identity theft goes beyond financial harm in ways that pose a risk to your health. A thief using your Social Security Number (SSN) to obtain medical services can lead to incorrect entries in your medical records, potentially resulting in wrong treatments or medications being prescribed to you in the future.

Moreover, if the thief exhausts your insurance benefits, you might find yourself unable to receive necessary medical care when you need it.

3). Steal Your Tax Refund

Fraudsters filing tax returns in your name will try to steal your tax refund. Such crimes often go unnoticed until you file your taxes and discover that one has already been filed.

This not only delays your legitimate refund but can put you in a lengthy process with the IRS to prove your identity and rectify your tax record.

4). Get Arrested In Your Name

Imagine being pulled over by a police officer for speeding and then realizing that you have a warrant for your arrest for a crime you didn’t commit - all because someone else used your Social Security Number (SSN) when they were arrested.

This form of identity theft can have far-reaching consequences, affecting your employment opportunities, your ability to secure loans, and even your freedom. Depending on the severity, you may need to put a fraud alert on your accounts and obtain a copy of your annual credit report to monitor any unauthorized activity.

5). Steal Your Government Benefits

Thieves might also target your government benefits, such as unemployment benefits or Social Security.

This type of fraud can result in denied claims when you legitimately need to access these services because the records show that the claims have already been processed, potentially indicating that someone is using your social.

6). Other Fraudulent Activities

The versatility of a Social Security Number (SSN) allows criminals to commit various kinds of fraud, including obtaining a fraudulent driver’s license or opening utility accounts like phone or electricity in your name.

This can lead to legal complications, affect your credit score, and result in financial losses due to unpaid bills fraudulently accrued under your identity.

Warning Signs of Social Security Number Misuse

Financial Anomalies

Credit Report Discrepancies are usually one of the first results from stolen SSN. Identity criminals will usually try to take money from you by trying to take loans or opening a credit card in your name and trying to make large purchases.

Knowing this fact, it's important to know the steps you can take to dispute charges on your credit and credit report.

Always check your credit report through free services such as AnnualCreditReport.com and put out alerts for accounts or inquiries you don’t recognize.

This is especially important if you suspect your identity was fraudulently used to open a new credit account in your name.

Immediately dispute these with the credit bureaus and freeze your credit.

Government and Medical Notices

If you receive an IRS notice for unreported income, make sure to contact the IRS immediately to address the issue.

It's wise to review your Social Security statements annually for accuracy.

Getting unexplained medical bills in the mail shoud perk up your ears. Keep records of all medical treatments so that you can check against those mailings.

If you receive bills for services you didn’t use, contact your health insurance provider and dispute the charges.

Personal Information Leaks

Data breaches happen quite often now, and so, if you find your information compromised, it’s best to change your passwords for affected accounts and monitor your financial statements and credit report closely.

Be vigilant about phishing attempts. Never share personal information in response to unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls.

If it happens, you'll need to put a fraud alert on your accounts immediately and might need to contact one of the credit bureaus to ensure no new credit account is opened in your name.

Verify the authenticity of any unsolicited request you get by directly contacting the company through official channels.

Additional Warning Signs

If medical claims are rejected due to benefits being exhausted on services you did not receive, this may be a sign of medical identity theft. Contact your insurance provider to report the issue.

Receiving legal documents or notices for offenses you did not commit could indicate criminal identity theft.

Report this to local law enforcement and the agency issuing the document immediately.

If you find that there’s a sudden stop in receiving your bills or regular mail, it might suggest an address change by an identity thief.

Contact your post office and creditors to verify and correct your mailing address.

Steps for Early Detection of Social Security Number Theft

Credit Report Monitoring

Sign up for credit monitoring services available through many financial institutions or through the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to check whether someone is using your Social Security Number.

These services alert you to any new accounts, credit inquiries, or significant changes to your credit score.

Early detection of unauthorized accounts, open lines of credit, or hard inquiries can be the first sign of identity theft or that someone is fraudulently using your SSN.

Prompt action can prevent further misuse of your SSN.

Social Security Number Monitoring Services

Use monitoring services that track the use of your SSN across various applications and alert you to any unauthorized use.

These services can detect misuse of your SSN in ways that might not immediately impact your credit report, such as applications for utility services or employment under your name.

Review Your Social Security Statement

Create a Social Security account to access and review your Social Security earnings statement annually.

Discrepancies in your earnings or unexpected claims for benefits could indicate that someone else is using your SSN for employment.

Protect Your Tax Records

File your taxes as early as possible each year. Early filing reduces the window of opportunity for a thief to file a fraudulent tax return in your name.

Use a secure internet connection if filing online, or a reputable tax preparation service if filing in person.

Additionally, consider creating an IRS Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) that adds an extra layer of protection to your federal tax filings.

The IP PIN is a six-digit number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return with your SSN.

Bank and Medical Statement Reviews

Regularly check your bank and medical insurance statements for any transactions or claims you do not recognize.

Set up account alerts for unusual activity such as attempts to open a new line of credit.

Early detection of unauthorized transactions or services can help you take swift action to secure your accounts and correct your medical records.

Dark Web Monitoring

Consider subscribing to a dark web monitoring service. The dark web is a common marketplace for stolen identities.

These services scan dark web sites, forums, and other places where stolen personal information is bought and sold, alerting you if your personal information is detected.

Early alerts can give you a head start in securing your accounts before the stolen information is used for fraudulent purposes.

What To Do If Your SSN Is Compromised: Steps To Take To Protect Your Social Security Number

Report to Government Authorities

Report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and file a police report if you notice unusual activity in your name

File a complaint online at IdentityTheft.gov. This website guides you through reporting identity theft to the FTC and provides a personalized recovery plan.

You can also call the FTC at 1-877-438-4338 for assistance.

Contact the Three Major Credit Bureaus

Equifax: Place a fraud alert by calling 1-800-525-6285 or visiting Equifax's fraud alert page to prevent anyone from opening new accounts in your name. Consider a credit freeze by calling 1-800-349-9960 or through Equifax's credit freeze page.

Experian: Add a fraud alert by calling 1-888-397-3742 or at Experian's fraud alert page. Freeze your credit by calling 1-888-397-3742 or using Experian's credit freeze page.

TransUnion:  Initiate a fraud alert by calling 1-800-680-7289 or visiting TransUnion's fraud alert page. For a credit freeze, call 1-888-909-8872 or go to TransUnion's credit freeze page.

Report to the Social Security Administration (SSA)

  • Report misuse of your SSN to monitor for fraudulent Social Security benefit claims.
  • Call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or visit SSA's website for more guidance.

File a Report with Local Law Enforcement

  • Obtain a police report to lend credibility to your case when disputing fraudulent accounts or transactions.
  • Visit your local police department with a copy of your FTC Identity Theft Report, any other evidence of the theft, and government-issued ID or proof of address.

Notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

  • Alert the IRS if your SSN was used for tax fraud or employment-related identity theft.
  • Call the IRS at 1-800-908-4490 or submit Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, available on the IRS website.

Close Any Compromised Accounts

  • Contact banks, credit card issuers, and any other financial institutions where your accounts may have been compromised.
  • Call the customer service numbers on the back of your cards or on your statements. Follow their recommended procedures to secure your accounts. Keep records of all communications.

Additional Considerations

Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all steps taken and communications made regarding the resolution of your SSN misuse. This documentation is crucial for disputing fraudulent transactions and for legal purposes, especially if you become a victim of identity theft.

Stay Vigilant: Regularly review your credit reports and account statements after the incident to catch any potential recurrence of fraud.

Some Other Additional Protective Measures You Can Take

Update Passwords and PINs

  • Regularly change passwords and PINs for all online banking, social media, email, and other digital accounts.
  • Use a reputable password manager to generate and store complex passwords. Enable PINs or passcodes for phone and banking apps to protect yourself from identity theft.
  • We, at MyDataRemoval, recommend BitWarden because they are the most secure and do not store or sell your data.

Secure Email and Communication Channels

  • Activate two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect against phishing and unauthorized access attempts. According to Microsoft, 2FA protects you aginst 99% of attacks
  • Consider using encrypted email services for sensitive communications. We recommend ProtonMail. They don’t store your data and are highly secure.

Consider Professional Identity Theft Protection Services

  • Invest in a service that monitors your credit and personal information for signs of theft.
  • Look for services offering real-time alerts, credit monitoring across all three bureaus, and recovery assistance. Compare features and prices to find the best fit for your needs.

Be Proactive with Creditors and Employers

  • Notify your creditors and employer if your SSN has been compromised, put a fraud alert on your credit file, and you'll need to contact one of the major credit bureaus to open a new account safely.
  • This can prevent fraudulent accounts from being opened in your name and alert your employer to potential tax fraud.

Stay Informed About Your Rights

  • Understand the legal protections that help you fight identity theft and safeguard your social security card.

Conclusion

We know that Social Security Number (SSN) is more than just an identifier—it's the key to your personal and financial identity. Staying ahead with proactive defenses and remaining ever-vigilant are essential strategies in protecting this critical piece of your life.

Let's share a story of one of our customers, Sarah H., who suddenly found her life turned upside down. Her Social Security Number was compromised, which then led to a series of unauthorized transactions and false debts. It’s the kind of thing you never think will happen to you until it does.

That's where we, at MyDataRemoval, stepped in. Sarah reached out to us (support@mydataremoval.com), overwhelmed by the breach of her personal information and its consequences. We helped her cleanse her online presence and guided her through the steps of securing her identity and financial integrity.

Together, we worked on removing her personal details from the internet, a crucial step to prevent further misuse of her information. We didn’t stop there; we helped Sarah navigate through setting fraud alerts, freezing her credit, and disputing the fraudulent charges.

Sarah was able to reclaim her sense of security and control over her personal information. If you find yourself in a similar position, we can help. Email us at hello@mydataremoval.com or call us at (855) 700-2914.