Today, more than ever before, identity theft is on the rise and with the dawn of the Internet, it’s become easier than ever. With data breaches in banks, credit card companies and even the medical field, your credit and identity can take a huge hit. You can easily be compromised and not find out for months.
It’s important to understand that your social security number is the main way to identify you and who you are. It’s used on a regular basis in the medical field and banking industries as well as at your place of employment to identify who you are and to pay your income tax. The slightest compromise can put you at a huge risk.
While you can close a compromised account and get a new credit card number and banking account number, it’s not as easy with your social security card. The Social Security Administration won’t issue new numbers. There are very rare instances in which this would be granted, and identity theft isn’t one of them unless specific requirements have been met and those are rarely met.
It can literally take years to recover from an identity theft if your social security number is compromised. Many people don’t realize just how much damage the theft of your social security number can do. thieves have a lot of different sneaky ways that they can steal your social security number so it’s important to safeguard your social security number at all times.
To make matters worse, security breaches in major corporations have exposed many social security numbers to cyber tech criminals. They’ve also exposed important information that goes along with the social security number such as a driver’s license number, birthday and even addresses.
Here are 4 Things That Identity Thieves Can do With Your Social Security Number
#.1 Open New Accounts
These accounts may be at a bank, like a credit card, or even ordering something online such as an expensive item of furniture, jewelry or computers. They can also use this information to obtain fraudulent bank loans and purchase large ticket items such as houses. This can do serious damage to your credit and your credit score which can prevent you from being able to obtain a loan or credit in the future if you need it.
#2. File Fraudulent Tax Returns
This is a serious crime and unfortunately, it’s on the rise. They take your social security number and file claims that are due to you. However, you never get the return, they do. The IRS states that in 2016 alone, over $227 million was lost to this scam. If your tax return is rejected as a duplicate, this is likely why. You’ve been the victim of a fraudulent return.
#3. Medical Care And Prescriptions
Your social security number can be used to obtain fraudulent medical care and prescriptions. With the right information, a thief can have full access to your health insurance coverages. They may undergo treatments in your name and change your records. This could have serious medical consequences on your health not to mention your finances. They may obtain emergency care services for such things as pain to obtain narcotics or other dangerous pharmaceuticals.
Your social security number may also be used to file for unemployment benefits or social security benefits. These resources would then be depleted should you require them. It may interfere with your ability to obtain a job or pass a criminal background check.
Having your social security number stolen may just be a small fraction of their real crimes. They may have stolen thousands of people’s social security numbers and use them for a variety of reasons including to commit crimes. You may wind up having to prove your innocence while you’re locked up behind bars because you’re suddenly being charged with crimes that you didn’t commit.
Protect Your Social Security Number
It’s important to fully understand where you might need to use your social security number. It may be difficult to catch them, especially if they’re just running up small credit card debts. It’s important to remember to monitor your credit report at least every six months.
If you do find something that is inaccurate on your report such as accounts that aren’t yours or you didn’t open, collections that you never paid for accounts you never had, follow the dispute button on the credit bureaus website and dispute the charges immediately. It can take a great deal of time to remedy a case of identity theft. In many cases it can take a few years and if you’re hoping to buy a house or car that few years can be some serious time that you have to put in to repair your credit and prove that you’re the victim of an identity theft. You may even need the services of a law firm or credit repair specialist.
You’ll need to use your social security number on intake forms, your job records, credit cards, banking accounts, and medical services. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes you can use an identifying number. Before you give out your number, ask why they need it, how they’re going to use it and how they protect it. Remember, the fewer locations that you use it the less likely it is to be stolen.
Regardless of how your social security number is stolen, once a thief has it, they can pretend to be you and buy things in your good name. They can sell or trade your social security number as well. Once that has happened it can even be more serious. Protect your social security number at all times and remember that it’s not replaceable. You can get a new social security card very easily, but it’s much more challenging to obtain a new number and then you have to go through a variety of steps and have waiting periods.