Has your Social Security Number been STOLEN?
In recent years, crimes such as identity theft are increasing at an unprecedented rate across the world and in the US.
Importantly, a cybercriminal who has your Social Security number (SSN) can get other details about you through it. Moreover, they can use your credit history to get a loan or a credit card in your name and then rack up large amounts of debt for you. Sometimes, people don’t find out their SSN was stolen until they’ve been inexplicably rejected for a loan or start getting calls from collectors about debt that isn’t theirs.
If you suspect someone is using your number, you can try a free people search to see what comes up. However, the surest way to know if you have become a victim of identity theft is by contacting the Social Security Administration.
How can your SSN number be stolen?
In the past, a common way to gain access to someone’s SSN was by stealing their purse or wallet – many people used to carry their SSN card with them or have their number written and saved in their wallet for “emergencies”. Mailboxes also contained mail that includes our tax information, new checks, and bank and credit card statements but today a more common way to steal Social Security numbers is through unsecured websites.
Specifically, someone might pretend to be your landlord, a potential employer, or another person who needs your information, including your SSN, by email or phone.
Cybercriminals can also purchase personal data from “insiders.” They might pay a bank clerk for the bank’s clients’ information.
Ways to Solve Problems
Keep a close eye on your credit score. You can use Credit Karma to see you score and the accounts that are linked to your SSN. Credit Karma will also notify you if there has been a change in your score so you can investigate it immediately and confirm if it was indeed you or if there is fraud.
The second you see fraud head over to IdentityTheft.gov to report that you’ve become the victim of identity theft. They will walk you through the steps to take to recover your identity. Moreover, this website is managed by the Federal Trade Commission.
In the worst-case scenario, you might have also considered getting a new Social Security number. This of course comes with its own set of issues as you are essentially starting from scratch again with no credit history. However, in extreme cases, this may be the only way.
So in summary:
Being vigilant is important. Have the latest anti-virus protection on your computer and phone. Don’t click random emails that require you to log in and hand over your info especially if its your SSN.
Very few systems require the full SSN and most will require just the last 4 digits so be wary when someone does require you to enter the entire number!
It’s probably not a bad idea to run a background check on yourself every once in a while and see what info is out there so you can make sure it is all correct.
Check out which is the best VPN service so you can ensure your data is always protected and not susceptible to hackers who can steal your info.