Social Security Identity Theft

This type of identity theft can have devastating impacts on your life. Learn what to do if someone steals your Social Security number.

Step 1:Recognize

Red Flags of Social Security Identity Theft

There are a few red flags that can help you spot Social Security identity theft. Here are a few to watch out for:

  • You receive calls or letters from unfamiliar companies or creditors.
  • You notice unexplained accounts on your credit report.
  • You receive bills or statements for accounts you did not open.
  • You receive a change of address notification from the post office that you did not request.
  • You receive tax notifications that are unexpected or unfamiliar.

Step 2:Immediate Actions

If you think you are the victim of Social Security identity theft, it is important to take action right away. Here are some steps to take:

  • Visit IdentityTheft.gov from the Federal Trade Commission to file a report and create a personalized plan for recovery.
  • Contact the credit bureaus to obtain a free copy of your credit report, and consider placing a freeze or alert on your credit.
  • If your Social Security card is lost or stolen, contact your local police department to file a theft report. Then call the Social Security Administration directly at 1-800-772-1213 to request a replacement.
  • If you suspect you are a victim of tax-related identity theft, contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) immediately to file a report at 1-800-908-4490 and complete an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039).

Step 3:Report

Reporting any type of cybercrime, including Social Security identity theft, is imperative to help others avoid being scammed. As a society, the more people that report online scams and fraud, the more national reporting data that is collected, and the better chance law enforcement has to catch the criminals and decrease cybercrime.

Step 4:Recover

Protect Yourself for the Future

Once you have notified the appropriate organizations, it is time to recover and reinforce your cybersecurity by implementing preventative measures.

  1. Keep your personal information safe. Be careful about who you give your Social Security number, health insurance account number, or other personal information to.
  2. Shred any documents that contain your personal information before you throw them away.
  3. Be cautious about giving your personal information over the phone or online. Make sure you know who you’re talking to and that the website is secure before you enter any sensitive information.
  4. Check your credit report carefully for any suspicious activity.

Take 5 Steps for Better Online Security

In addition, it’s important to strengthen your online security to help avoid all types of online scams. Take action to improve your digital posture by following these steps:

  1. Implement Multi Factor Authentication (MFA): Passwords are generally easy for scammers to crack, and even if you use strong passphrases, there’s still the possibility that a cybercriminal can obtain your passphrase in a data breach. Implementing MFA is a great way to maximize your security and ensure that you are the only one who can gain access to your accounts. MFA should be implemented on all accounts where it is available. Check your account’s security settings to see if it is something you can set up.
  2. Update Your Privacy Settings: Privacy settings allow you to control your personal information (name, address, phone number, date of birth, financial details, photos or videos, etc) and how that information is used. Review your privacy settings on all of your accounts including your social media accounts. Consider restricting who can see your friends list, contacts, photos and posts.
  3. Activate Automatic Updates: Automatic updates are a set of changes to an app, software or operating system that are automatically pushed by the developer to fix or improve it. Oftentimes, cybercriminals take advantage of security flaws to plant malicious software on your devices. By activating automatic updates, you will automatically patch security vulnerabilities to protect your data.
  4. Create Strong Passphrases: A strong passphrase is a string of unrelated words separated by hyphen, space, period, capitalized first letter or number. Use passphrases that are longer than 15 characters and include multiple words that do not have any obvious connection between them. The key to passphrases is randomness. Don’t repeat your passphrases between accounts and consider using a password manager to help you remember.
  5. Learn the Elements of a Phishing Attempt: Familiarize yourself with the elements of a phishing email. Phishing emails tend to include a sense of urgency and multiple grammar and spelling errors. If they are asking you to reveal personal information, be suspicious. If you get a strange email, try contacting the company another way to confirm they sent that email. If the email is suspicious, mark it as spam.

TestimonialHear from Other Victims

Without Fightcybercrime.org, I don't know if I would have been able to react as quickly to protect my personal information.
Mary - Indianapolis, IN

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