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



    How can we protect my 2 little grandkids from their drug addicted mom from using their socia security numbers to file taxes next year. She is not living with them and does not have custody.
    they are under our care and she is not allowed to see or be with them I know she needs money and will try anything to get it

    • Vonda

      Hi Jacque, thanks for using our blog. If you are not the representative payee for your grandchildren and they live with you, you should call us. 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. Also, if you are interested in applying to be a representative payee, you should read our publication: A Guide For Representative Payees to understand a representative payees responsibilities. We hope this helps!

  2. nichole

    Hi. I got my wallet stolen, I had my drivers licenses in there, i’m scared that this person can access my ssn number through my drivers licenses number. do they have access to that?

  3. Nichole

    Hi. Can someone access your social security number by your drivers licenses number? I got my wallet stolen. i’m scared that they have access to that information.

  4. Francis L.

    Someone called me and said they where the social security and that some s someone tried to call me and said they were from the Social Security and this some suspicious activity has been used for my card and she asked me who I was my birthday and my social security number and when I refused she said a warrant would be issued for my arrest

    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, Francis. 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.

  5. TERESA R.

    What are the important documents that I need to keep in my S.S. file at home?
    Other than what is sent in the current year, what other documents sent to me from S. S. should I keep?
    I suspect there are unnecessary documents I am keeping that could be shred.
    Thank you.

  6. Kim J.

    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!

  7. Annette V.

    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.

      • Brad R.

        Why check have been cut off since February

        • Vonda

          For your security, Brad, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. 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.

  8. Jamie T.

    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 V.

      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.

  9. Traylon s.

    A scam called pretending to be social

  10. Jeanenne W.

    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 V.

      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!

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