Even the most cautious Americans are victims of identity theft, and many of us have no idea what to do if it happens to us. We’re talking about your Social Security number being compromised.
Identity thieves steal our personal information in a variety of methods, including stealing our accounts online or posing as a legitimate government body like the IRS or the Social Security Administration.
Criminals can sell this very sensitive information on the dark web or use it to open a new credit card, among other things. Despite the fact that this occurs frequently (the Federal Trade Commission estimates that 9 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year), dealing with it is a pain. It’s critical to remain calm and take care of the problem as soon as possible.
Here’s what you should do if your SSS is stolen.
Any of the three major credit reporting agencies should be notified
“It’s vital to move quickly and notify Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian,” said David Clark, a lawyer at The Clark Law Office. “Doing so considerably reduces the perpetrator’s use of your Social Security number, providing you enough time to resolve the matter legally.”
This fraud notice must be reissued every 90 days until the theft is determined to be rectified.
Check your credit reports
“Run your three credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion as soon as you realise your SSN has been taken,” said Dr. Chris Pierson, CEO of cybersecurity solutions firm BlackCloak.
“Under a previous federal law, you can do this for free and without having to pay or join any subscription service.” Once you’ve done that, go over each one for any concerns and dispute any credit cards or accounts that aren’t yours right away.”
A Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze can be requested.
“Fraudsters may try to steal your identity and exploit it to defraud others. “They might want to make purchases in your name, rent a car or an apartment, create a new credit card, or apply for a loan,” Francis Locknear, founder of The Cost Guys, explained. “This is why, if your social security number has been taken, it’s best to request a credit freeze.” Your credit report will be restricted if you place a credit freeze on it.”
TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian are the three credit agencies you’ll need to freeze your credit with.
“You can still prevent a fraudster from utilising your identity if they have your SSN but no documentation of the incident,” Locknear said. “You can set up a fraud alert.” It won’t prohibit anyone from seeing your credit record, but it will prevent them from utilising it without first validating your identity.”
Notify the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about the theft.
“Access to your SSN gives the criminal the ability to submit tax returns in your name and collect your tax refund,” Clark explained. “Stolen Social Security numbers, unlike credit card accounts, cannot be cancelled, so your only option is to report the event to the IRS.”
This will help clear your name of any potential tax fraud done using your stolen SSN during the course of the problem.”
According to Pierson, you should file a Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS to notify them of the SSN theft.
Report a Case of Identity Theft.
“A stolen legal SSN with the bearer’s name and address is worth a lot of money,” Clark said. “It’s most likely sold to undocumented employees or people trying to mask their identity.”
“Having a police record stating that you were not using your Social Security number at the time of a crime involving your identity may assist clear your records and name.” This is also a need for obtaining a new SSN.”
Examine Your Banking Financial Relationships.
“You should also examine your key banking relationships,” Pierson advised, “since a stolen SSN might be the start of a wider identity theft campaign directed at your financial accounts.”
“At the very least, update your passwords and access to all of your financial accounts.” Make sure that dual-factor authentication is enabled on your financial accounts so that no one else can access them.”
Keep an eye out for unusual activity.
“Criminals typically use SSN theft as a starting point for financial theft, insurance, and tax refund scams,” Pierson said. “So you should go down the list and contact all of those organisations to make sure your account information (especially your contact information) has not been changed, to look for any unusual activity, and to add any additional protections you can to these accounts.”
“In addition to your banking, they should include your email, health insurance, and any local, state, or federal accounts you may have.” To find out what further anti-fraud precautions can be implemented to your account, you should contact each of those businesses.”
Boost Your Mobile Carrier’s Security
“Last but not least,” Pierson advised, “call your mobile provider and improve the security on your mobile account.”
“Most carriers will allow you to add a PIN to your account, preventing an impostor from gaining control of your account.” This is critical for you to undertake since ‘SIM shifting’ is a widespread practise among persons who have been victims of identity theft.”
According to Pierson, SIM swapping occurs when a criminal is able to persuade a cell carrier to swap out the SIM card connected with your phone number, essentially giving the criminal access over that number.
“They usually use this to steal your bank account or other significant account’s dual-factor authentication codes,” Pierson explained.
“However, SIM switching allows the criminal to receive all of your calls and texts, as well as impersonate you when calling or texting others.”