What to do if Your Social Security Number is Stolen?
When your Social Security number (SSN) is stolen, it can lead to various types of identity theft and financial fraud. Here are some of the potential consequences and steps you should take if your SSN is stolen:
Identity Theft: The thief can use your SSN to assume your identity. They may open credit card accounts, apply for loans, or commit other financial fraud in your name.
Financial Loss: You may suffer financial losses as a result of unauthorized charges or loans taken out in your name.
Credit Score Damage: If the thief doesn't repay debts or defaults on loans, it can negatively impact your credit score.
Tax Fraud: The thief might use your SSN to file fraudulent tax returns to claim refunds, potentially causing problems with your legitimate tax filings.
Medical Identity Theft: Your SSN can also be used to obtain medical services or prescription drugs, potentially leading to incorrect medical records and bills in your name.
Criminal Activities: In some cases, criminals might use your SSN for illegal activities, potentially leading to legal trouble for you.
To mitigate the damage if your SSN is stolen:
Contact the Authorities: Report the theft to your local law enforcement agency, as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through their website or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.
Monitor Your Credit: Regularly review your credit reports for any suspicious activity. You are entitled to a free credit report from each bureau every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com.
Contact Financial Institutions: If you have any financial accounts or credit cards, notify the respective institutions of the theft so they can monitor your accounts for unusual activity.
File an Identity Theft Report: File an identity theft report with the FTC, which can be useful in resolving issues with creditors.
Check for Other Stolen Documents: If your SSN was stolen from physical documents, such as a wallet or passport, report the loss to the relevant authorities and replace the documents as necessary.
Consider an Identity Theft Protection Service: Some companies offer identity theft protection services that can help monitor your information and provide assistance in case of identity theft.
Be Vigilant: Continue to monitor your financial accounts, credit reports, and any other sensitive information for signs of fraudulent activity for an extended period.
Contact an Identity Theft Lawyer: At no cost, Vullings Law Group, LLC will assist you to dispute items on your credit reports, which were caused by the identity thief, directly with the credit bureaus.
At no cost, we will ask that the creditor or furnisher who had an account opened with them by the identity thief, to send us documentation to verify or validate the alleged account. Many times, this documentation from the creditor used by the identity thief will show that the identity theft occurred by using an address which is not yours or a date of birth which is not yours. Perhaps, the identity thief even made purchases in a location or area you have never visited. If the credit reporting agencies refuse to remove such items after we receive this documentation from the creditor, we can represent you as your attorney under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Even though you do not have to put out any costs or pay our law firm to represent you, the lawyers at Vullings Law Group, LLC will aggressively fight for you until we have either a settlement or a Court Order to get the item removed from your credit report which was caused by the identity thief, unscrupulous person, friend, or even family member.
Remember, it's essential to act quickly when your SSN is stolen to minimize the potential damage and protect your identity. Being proactive and taking the necessary steps can help you recover more swiftly from this type of identity theft.
Preventing your Social Security number (SSN) from getting stolen is crucial to protect your identity and financial well-being. Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of SSN theft:
Keep Your SSN Secure: Memorize your SSN and avoid carrying your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Do not write your SSN on documents you carry regularly.
Use Secure Storage: Store important documents, such as your Social Security card, birth certificate, and passport, in a secure, locked location at home.
Be Cautious Online: Be cautious about sharing your SSN online or via email unless you are certain it's a legitimate and secure website or communication.
Monitor Your Credit Reports: Regularly review your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can obtain one free report from each bureau every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com.
Secure Your Mail: Use a locked mailbox or consider a P.O. box for receiving sensitive mail, such as financial statements and tax documents.
Shred Documents: Shred documents containing personal information, especially those that include your SSN, before disposing of them.
Be Wary of Scams: Be cautious about unsolicited phone calls or emails asking for your SSN or personal information. Verify the legitimacy of the request before sharing any information.
Protect Your Computer and Devices: Ensure your computer and devices are protected with up-to-date antivirus software and firewalls to guard against malware and phishing attempts.
Use Strong Passwords: Use strong, unique passwords for online accounts and consider using a password manager to keep track of them securely.
Secure Your Social Media Profiles: Limit the personal information you share on social media platforms, as attackers often gather information from these sources.
Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the latest identity theft and cybersecurity threats to better protect yourself.
While it's challenging to completely eliminate the risk of SSN theft, these preventive measures can significantly reduce your vulnerability and make it more difficult for identity thieves to misuse your Social Security number.