Frauds & Scams

Protecting Your Social Security Number from Identity Theft

August 25, 2016 • By

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

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.
  • 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 were posted correctly with your personal my Social Security account. If you don’t have a my Social Security account, you can create an account today!

If someone misused your Social Security number to create credit or other problems for you, immediately go 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.

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

Deputy Commissioner, Office of Communications

Comments

  1. john h.

    Received a call from Social Security in regards to payee verification from 502-226-5842. I tried calling this number back and it said it was no longer in use. Was this a possible SCAM ? The person I talked to said they were with SSA in Frankfort Ky. Should I be concerned ?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi John, thanks for checking with us. You may want to call us to see if we’re trying to connect with you. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  2. Cody B.

    My name is Cody James Black and when I tried to apply for a credit card it said it couldn’t prove identity with my social security number please email me at merlinrules420@gmail.com so I can explain further.

  3. MICHELLE D.

    SOMEONE FROM A TEXAS PHONE NUMBER CALLED ME & SAID THAT THEY WERE WITH THE SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE. THEY TOLD ME OVER THE PHONE MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER AND THREATENED ME. I TOLD THEM THAT I DONT LIVE IN TEXAS. PLEASE STOP BOTHERING ME. THE REPEATEDLY TOLD ME THAT I WAS IN DANGER. IAM REALLY CONCERNED BECAUSE THEY HAD MY SSN #. IT WAS VERY WEIRD AND HURTFUL

    • Vonda V.

      Thanks for letting us know, Michelle. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us. Recently, scams—misleading victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for Social Security number problems—have skyrocketed. Our employees will never threaten you for information or promise a benefit in exchange for personal information or money.

      If you receive a suspicious call like this: 1) Hang up. 2) Do not provide personal information, money, or retail gift cards. 3) Report suspicious calls here. For more information on how to protect yourself, check out our Frequently Asked Questions. We hope this helps.

  4. Francisco R.

    I want to freeze my social security number, what do I need to do?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Francisco, thanks for using our blog. If you’re referring to a credit freeze, please contact the credit reporting agencies directly. If you think someone is using your Social Security number, visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page for a list of actions to take. We hope this helps!

  5. Juan R.

    I received an email from an account I have and I put my personal information. After a while I contact the account and they told me it wasn’t them requesting my information payment. I already cancel my bank card but I need to know what to do about my social security.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Juan, thanks for using our blog. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for information on what you can do if you think someone is using your number.

  6. Vaneatra S.

    I continue to receive calls from someone stating that there has been fraudulent activity including my social security number what do I do

    • Ann C.

      Thanks for checking in with us, Vaneatra. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us. Recently, scams—misleading victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for Social Security number problems—have skyrocketed. Our employees will never threaten you for information or promise a benefit in exchange for personal information or money.

      If you receive a suspicious call like this: 1) Hang up. 2) Do not provide personal information, money, or retail gift cards. 3) Report suspicious calls here. For more information on how to protect yourself, check out our Frequently Asked Questions. We hope this helps.

  7. James

    I received a call on September 3rd 2020 the call as the following I must contact the social security office immediately if I don’t I will be arrested because there’s been fraudulent activity on my social security number phone number on caller ID was 305 890 9336
    After the recordedmessage..
    Then I was able to speak to a live person he asked me my name I asked him his name I did not give my name ask him where he was located he said 4416 16th avenue Arlington Virginia I asked him his name and then he hung up

    My name is James you can reach me at 3:05 890 0047

    • Ann C.

      Hi, James. Thanks for letting us know. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us. Recently, scams—misleading victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for Social Security number problems—have skyrocketed. Our employees will never threaten you for information or promise a benefit in exchange for personal information or money.

      If you receive a suspicious call like this: 1) Hang up. 2) Do not provide personal information, money, or retail gift cards. 3) Report suspicious calls here. For more information on how to protect yourself, check out our Frequently Asked Questions. Just a reminder – please be cautious about posting personal information on social media. We hope this helps.

  8. Jay B.

    I’m receiving a call from 267-807-5172 saying that they are going to suspend my social security number if I don’t call

    • Vonda V.

      Thanks for letting us know, Jay. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us. Recently, scams—misleading victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for Social Security number problems—have skyrocketed. Our employees will never threaten you for information or promise a benefit in exchange for personal information or money.

      If you receive a suspicious call like this: 1) Hang up. 2) Do not provide personal information, money, or retail gift cards. 3) Report suspicious calls here. For more information on how to protect yourself, check out our Frequently Asked Questions. We hope this helps.

  9. David W.

    Received 4 calls in last two hours. Trying to get SS number. They leave call back number 1-713-766-2562. They identify themselves as the SS Administration.

    • Vonda V.

      Thanks for letting us know, David. Generally, we will only contact you if you have requested a call or have ongoing business with us. Recently, scams—misleading victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for Social Security number problems—have skyrocketed. Our employees will never threaten you for information or promise a benefit in exchange for personal information or money.

      If you receive a suspicious call like this: 1) Hang up. 2) Do not provide personal information, money, or retail gift cards. 3) Report suspicious calls here. For more information on how to protect yourself, check out our Frequently Asked Questions. We hope this helps.

  10. Alfredo A.

    I have either misplaced or had my social security card stolen. I don’t know what to do about it.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Alfredo. First, realize that you may not need a replacement card. You will rarely need to show it. Knowing the Social Security number is what is important. To see if you’re eligible to apply for a replacement Social Security card online or to learn more on the process and what documents you will need to get a card please visit our Social Security Number and Card page. Keep in mind all submitted documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency and must (unless otherwise indicated) have been issued within the last two years. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. Once you’ve submitted all the needed documents, it can take up to 10 business days from the date we received the application to mail a replacement card. We hope this helps.

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