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. LORI A.

    I was wondering if there was anything different going on my SS number. I have had strange calls from a man claiming he was an agent. WORRIED

  2. Mary Z.

    Someone called to sell me some hearing aides and I had given them my social security # and date of birth early this morning and I had given them the information

  3. Stephen R.

    Thank you

  4. Lisa S.

    A scammer called me, and I wasn’t aware. They got my last 4 digits of my SS number . They said that people were opening accounts in my name. They said this was happening in Texas, and I live in NYS. Please, what should I do? I ended the call the minute that she started to ask me too many questions. Do I need to change my SSN ?

    • Vonda V.

      Hello Lisa, if you think someone is using your Social Security number, there are several actions you can take. Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page about this topic. Thanks!

  5. Ronald D.

    I was scammed yesterday10-14-2020 by someone impersonating a police officer, reporting my grandson was arrested. I inadvertently provided my social security number to this person. This person requested money for bail to be sent to Anna Bray, 440 NW 106th street, Miami Florida. No money was sent. The scammer represented himself as Michael Lynch. His badge number was 8654ML. The phone number given 902-980-0157. I am concerned about my social security number being compromised. Please provide me with suggestions as how to continue monitoring for fraud. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 608-687-3087 and or via email . Thank you. Ron Funk

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Ronald, thanks for using our blog. 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.

  6. Keon L.

    Someone working on my son social security number. I someone to stop them from using his social security number

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Keon, thanks for using our blog. 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. 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”.

  7. Laquita t.

    Yes I got a call from 2 different numbers, Nd they said they out FBI Nd I have a case number Nd other numbers he gave me but I had called the FBI ppl cuz they tlking bout someone’s using my Social Security for trafficking and taxes, so I tried to call the numbers back and it was somebody else, so idk if I need a whole new social Security card in a new number,

    • Vonda V.

      Thanks for letting us know, Laquita. 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.

  8. Laura K.

    I received a threatening phone call from people saying I was going to be arrested for drug trafficking and laundering money and my social security number had been stolen. They had most of my information and became very angry when I asked questions they could not answer.

    • Vonda V.

      Thanks for letting us know, Laura. 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. Theresa P.

    I am applying for ATT fiber optic cable. They said there was a problem with my social security number. He asked my marital status. I told him I am divorced. Over 25 years. The rep said there is a something wrong with my social security number. And he will call me back. What is the protocol to check for possible social security identity theft.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Theresa, thanks for using our blog. You can create or log in to your my Social Security account to check your earnings record and ensure its accuracy. You can also 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.

  10. M.BALASINGAM

    I have lost a lot in one mistake i have made with the communication network’s from that point i have decided to find out what going on in my communication network’s and the devices. System to make bigger changes to get solution and share the information about my mistakes and how I have lost and i don’t want any other person who lost same like me in future and I would fine out all my mistakes ?????

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