If your Social Security card gets stolen or someone picks up your Social Security number from a confidential document, they may use it to steal your identity, access some of your personal information or open unauthorized financial accounts.
It’s illegal to use somebody else’s Social Security number, but many victims of identity theft don’t even know that their SSN has been stolen until the damage is done.
Unless you are checking your credit report regularly and paying close attention to account statements and other financial documents, there’s a good chance that the identity theft goes unnoticed for quite some time.
Here are 5 things you should do if someone used your Social Security Number or SSN:
1. Call the Police Immediately as well as the Social Security Administration
Start by filing an official police report with local authorities as soon as you’ve discovered that another person has used your SSN. This police report will be required from you as you contact other agencies – such as the IRS, or your bank – to notify them that you’ve been the victim of ID theft.
You should also contact the Social Security Administration when your Social Security number is being misused. Call the SSA office toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
Just be advised that Social Security officials won’t give you a new SSN – except in very rare circumstances. Also, read my advice about the pros and cons when you get a new Social Security number.
2. Initiate a Credit Freeze
You will also need to contact the credit bureaus to request a credit freeze on your social security number. Many states allow residents to initiate a credit freeze free of charge.
To initiate a freeze, you will need to provide the credit bureaus with a unique PIN or password, verify your identity, and provide other information about any third parties who are authorized to review your credit file.
Some credit bureaus require that you make your request in writing while others allow you file a request online. Keep in mind that you will need to place a security or credit freeze with each individual credit bureau separately.
Even though alerting each credit reporting agency takes extra time and effort, you should do it as soon as possible to prevent someone from further use of your Social Security number.
3. Alert the IRS Promptly
When someone steals your Social Security number, they could also try to get a tax refund check that belongs to you, or they might get a job by illegally using your SSN.
If you suspect this has happened to you – perhaps because you tried to file taxes, but you got a notice that a 1040 form with your SSN has already been supplied – then you also need to tell the IRS about the matter.
The IRS has special forms for you to fill out whenever tax-related ID theft has occurred.
4. Contact the Federal Trade Commission
If you’re experiencing credit or other financial problems because someone stole your social security number, you need to identify yourself as a victim of identity theft. Call the FTC at 1-877-IDTHEFT to make sure they know the circumstances surrounding your situation.
The FTC tracks identity theft. So the information you provide may help them spot a pattern of fraud.
5. Report the Incident to Banks and Credit Card Companies
Lastly, you will need to notify your bank and credit card companies that your Social Security number has been stolen or misused. They may be able to freeze your accounts or flag your accounts for monitoring. Alternatively, for security reasons, they may simply cancel your card and issue you a new one.
Either way, don’t be afraid to ask the bank or credit-card company to monitor your account for any suspicious activity going forward. They may be able to track down the thief and help you resolve your case.
No matter what happens, if you are curious about the matter and want to know who stole your Social Security number, read this article for advice on how to track down an ID thief.