Privacy & Identity

Protecting Your Social Security Number from Identity Theft

August 25, 2016 • By

indentity theftEvery year, millions of Americans become victims of identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personally identifiable information and pretends to be you. They can use this information to open bank or credit card accounts, file taxes, or make new purchases in your name.  

It is important that you take steps to protect your Social Security number from theft. If someone obtains your Social Security number, they can use it to get other personal information about you, including your bank or credit information. Someone can steal your Social Security number by:

  • Stealing your wallet, purse, or mail;
  • Obtaining personal information you provide to an unsecured site on the Internet;
  • Rummaging through your trash; or
  • Posing by phone or email as someone who needs information about you.

If someone asks for your number, you should ask why, how it will be used, and what will happen if you refuse. Make sure you give your employer and your financial institution(s) your correct Social Security number, so your records and tax information are accurate.

To minimize the risk of identity theft, keep your Social Security card and any other documents that show your Social Security number in a safe place. Do not carry your Social Security card or other documents with you that display your number unless you need them.

If you suspect someone’s using your Social Security number for work purposes, report the problem to us immediately by contacting the Federal Trade Commission. We will review your earnings with you to ensure our records are accurate. You may also verify your earnings on your Social Security Statement. You can get your Statement online by opening a personal my Social Security account.

If someone misused your Social Security number to create credit or other problems for you, immediately go to and report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Their website provides detailed information to help you defend against identity theft. You can reach them by phone by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261.

You may also want to contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and file an online complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Safeguarding your identity and Social Security is of the utmost importance. If you think you’re a victim of identity theft, please act now. For more information, read our publication Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number or visit us online.

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About the Author


Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications


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  1. Jeanenne Wilbanks

    I am 90 yrs old and just noticed I have lost my ss card, but do not know where or when. I do know my number and would like to know how to find out if someone may have used my card for something. Do I need to get a new card since I do know my number. Would appreciate hearing from you.

    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Jeanenne, thank you for using our blog. First, realize you may not need a replacement card. You will rarely need to show it. Knowing your Social Security number is what is important. The easiest way to check on your benefits is in your my Social Security account. To set up your account, visit the my Social Security web page and select, “Create an Account.” You will need to provide some personal information to verify your identity, choose a username and password and follow the rest of the steps to finish creating your account. Once you create your account, scroll down to the Benefits and Payments section to see all of your payment details. We hope this helps!

  2. Traylon sanford

    A scam called pretending to be social

  3. Jamie Taylor

    I believe their is two individuals that have my social security number and using it in identity theift. So what do I need to do in taking steps to get them from stealing any more information.

    • Vonda VanTil, Public Affairs Specialist

      Hi Jamie, thanks for using our blog. Generally, identity theft issues are handled by the Federal Trade Commission. Visit to report identity theft and get a recovery plan or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).

      In addition, check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on what you can do if you think someone is using your Social Security number.

  4. Annette V Torres

    Hello my name is Annette V Torres and I am homeless and using mailing address was using 310 E. Drexel Ave San Antonio, TX, 78210 I saw my efile and been noticing alot of weird activity on my account like I’m not a U.S. citizen and I’m married I believe it i have a guardian or payee and other things. For one business Looks like more than one and looks my assets are being disbursed. My two ex husband’s have passed I don’t have an injured husband etc I don’t know what to do I’ve tried I’m time. How I noticed I have an older email that they are using and I’ve been trying to file since 2014 I’m using my up to date email. I also believe that I know who is doing it but I don’t want to yet I also noticed by the efile because the password and email that he’s using ate different emails. Please contact me at 210-897-2351

    • Vonda

      Hi Annette, thanks for using our blog. If you’re referring to taxes, please contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at or by calling their toll-free number at 1-800-829-1040.

  5. Kim Johnston

    My father-in-law (who has early Alzheimers) was caught starting to give his SSN to someone on the phone. Luckily we were able to stop him this time, but now we are concerned it may happen again. My husband has power of attorney, how can we lock down or freeze his SSN?

    • Vonda

      Hi Kim, thanks for using our blog. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for things that you can do if you think someone is using your father-in-law’s Social Security, including contacting the three major credit bureaus. We hope this helps!


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