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. Shirley S.

    I got a phone call from a 210 number and a 2102686336, saying that my social security is being fraud and they needed to verify my full name and i asked for his badge number and said his badge number is SSA20184. How do i know if its SSA calling and not someone impersonating a ssa employee?

    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, Shirley. 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.

  2. Priscilla M.

    My mother gave her social security number to a caller.
    What should I do to protect her?

    • Vonda

      Hi Priscilla, thanks for using our blog. Visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on what you can do if you think someone is using your Social Security number. We hope this is helpful!

  3. Leslie

    I was informed by my employer that someone filed for Unemployment Benefits using my name and SSN. I was told to contact the state labor dept, which I did. I also contacted my bank, credit card company, Experian (which I pay for to monitor my info) and the FTC. Is there anything else I should do?

    • Vonda

      Hi Leslie, thanks for using our blog. If you receive Supplemental Security Income benefits, and you suspect Unemployment fraud, contact your local Social Security Office immediately. 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.

      For additional information, please visit our Social Security and Coronavirus web page.

  4. Jennifer G.

    I recently adopted a child who has been in my care since 2017 and someone has claimed the child on 2018 and 2019 income taxes fraudulently. Now that the adoption is final I was advised by my lawyer to change their social security number. I cannot find definitive information on how to do that. Please advise. THANK YOU.

    • Vonda

      Hi Jennifer, thanks for using our blog. Please check out our Social Security and Coronavirus web page for details on getting help with Social Security number issues. Generally, we will schedule an in-person appointment in certain situations. You can call your local office to see if an in-office appointment is necessary and possible. To contact the local office, please look for the local office telephone number at Social Security Office Locator under “Social Security Office Information” for the office you select. The toll-free “Office” number is your local office.

  5. Mary

    My brother lost his social security card. What can he do to ensure that his number will not be used fraudulently. Will Social Security issue a new number?

    • Vonda

      Hi Mary. 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 your brother only obtain a replacement Social Security card if he needs one. He will rarely need to show it. Knowing his Social Security number is what is important. However, if he must get a replacement card, he will need to gather documents proving both his identity and citizenship status. To see if he’s eligible to apply for a replacement Social Security card online or to learn more on the process and what documents he will need to get a card, visit our Social Security Number and Card web page. Thanks!

  6. Juli C.

    My mom’s mail that included her statement from Social Security was stolen 2 days ago. How can protect her Social Security number from being used?
    Thank you

  7. Sumera A.

    Somebody used my social security number to file unemployment. Please advice how can I protect my social security.

  8. Lisa R.

    Is there a way to get a report on my social security number that shows all the addresses I lived at and where I worked so I review it?

    • Vonda

      Hi Lisa, thanks for using our blog to ask your question. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions web page for details on how to get a detailed earnings statement that includes your employers. We hope this helps!

  9. Renee

    How do you BLOCK your SSN? You’ve taken that page down I see.

    • Vonda

      Hi Renee, thanks for using our blog. You can choose to block electronic access to your Social Security record. When you do this, no one, including you, will be able to see or change your personal information online or through our automated telephone service. If you block access to your record and then change your mind in the future, you can contact Social Security and ask us to unblock it.

      If you choose to block access, please call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can call 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.

      You may also want to consider adding extra security to your my Social Security account. For more information, visit If You Want Extra Security. We hope this is useful.

    • Samuel T.

      My name is samuel this number contacted me + 48 82 568 8971 called me and it was recorded line saying frad on my ssi number did not andser any thing i hung up and called u

      • Vonda

        Thanks for letting us know, Samuel. 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. william b.

    Im getting phone call and text massage from this number
    1845 4768059
    Newburgh NY
    they said my SS has been cancel

    • Vonda

      Thanks for letting us know, William. 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.

Comments are closed.