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. Lorraine C.

    Somebody’s been using my social security number for certain things doing fraudulent things. I need to secure my social security number.

  2. Holly J.

    I would like to report an SSI Scam automated call that is going out to myself and numerous other people the call is from Lewisville Texas and the phone number is 1-(469)5285 saying there is some legal enforcement action is filed against my Social Security number and to please call them back at the above number.

    • Vonda V.

      Thanks for letting us know, Holly. 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.

  3. Esther W.

    I have received numerous phone calls saying that my Social Security has been breached and if interested in pursuing select Option 1 on phone. The call in number was 336-209-9661. This morning I phoned that number and the person answering identified the office as “Transitional Care” of Greensboro, NC.

    I would appreciate receiving an acknowledgement from SS that my account is okay.

    Thank you!

    • Vonda V.

      Thanks for checking in with us, Esther. 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. Michael E.

    Someone is using my social security number, can I get a pin number for my social security number

    • Vonda V.

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

      Visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on what you can do if you think someone is using your Social Security number.

  5. Michelle M.

    How do I protect my children’s social security number? Do I create an account for each one in mysocial security or can I do it under my account?

    Thank you

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Michelle, thanks for using our blog. To create a my Social Security account, you must be at least 18 years of age. You can only create an account using your own personal information and for your own exclusive use. You cannot create an account on behalf of another person or using another person’s information or identity, even if you have that person’s written permission. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for information on protecting your Social Security number.

  6. Kenneth M.

    After almost dieing from a severe anxiety attack in December last year, someone must have thought I was dead and took my wallet without returning it to the superior and now my info is being used as phoney, fraudulent purposes. That was my 10th social security card along with my ID’s, SNAP benefit card.The only thing now is my social security card and I need it to continue for other purposes. Thank you, Have a nice day.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Kenneth, 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. However, if you must get a replacement card, you may be able to apply online. Visit our Social Security Number and Card page to learn how. If you cannot request a replacement card online, call your local office and request that we mail you an SSN printout instead of a replacement Social Security card. Unfortunately, we are unable to process replacement Social Security card requests by phone at this time.

  7. David M.

    My SSN has been compromised…I was notified by my home state of Kansas about an unemployment claim against my work place Benedictine College here in Atchison, Kansas was file by the use of my SSN..I did not file any unemployment claim…I have contacted the IRS and the credit reporting bureaus about this fraud and now this has been brought too your attention as well..Please advise as too the next steps to correct this issue..
    Thanks,
    David M.McRae

    • Vonda V.

      Generally, identity theft issues are handled by the Federal Trade Commission. Visit http://www.identitytheft.gov to report identity theft and get a recovery plan or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).

      Visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on what you can do if you think someone is using your Social Security number.

  8. Carrie J.

    Someone keep calling saying they surspend my social security number

    • Vonda V.

      Thanks for letting us know, Carrie. 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. Judy S.

    I keep getting calls that my Social security # is going to be revoked due to fraudulant activity. The number I have this time is 817-405-5660. This has been going on for quite a long time now and I would like it to stop. Despite my continued efforts it still persist. Thank you for your help.

    • Vonda V.

      Thanks for letting us know, Judy. 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. Susan B.

    I lost my social security card while tenewong my driver’s license. Is there a way to freeze it?

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Susan, thank you for your question. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created a Self-Lock process. Locking an SSN helps stop individuals from using stolen SSNs to gain work authorization through E-Verify. Read more at https://www.e-verify.gov/mye-verify/self-lock. To learn more about the steps individuals can take to prevent or resolve issues of identity theft, read our publication: “Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number”.

      We recommend you only obtain a replacement Social Security card if you need one. You will rarely need to show it. Knowing your Social Security number is what is important. However, if you must get a replacement card, you will need to gather documents proving both your identity and citizenship status. 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, visit our Social Security Number and Card web page. Thanks!

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