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


  1. Johnston P.

    Where can I get help and assistance for my father Social Security benefits his worked from 1950 to 1962 on Guam during the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) under the United States Navy controlled the TTPI from a headquarters in Guam until 1951, when the United Ststes Department of the Interior took over control, administering the territory from a base in Saipan.

    After his work in Guam and Saipan he moved to Kwajalein to continued working from 1963- to 1977 under the United States Army with the Global.

    Later he work in Kosrae, Federated Ststes of Micronesia with some private business company and Kosrae, FSM government sector until he retired from his job.

    I am looking forward to hearing from your expertise in this very urgent matter.

    Thank you so much.

    • Ray F.

      Unfortunately and because of security reasons, we do not have access to personal records in this blog. Your father should contact his local Social Security office or call us toll free at 1-800 772-1213. Representatives are available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday but you will generally have a shorter wait time if you call later in the week. If outside of the continental United States, he should contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate for any assistance related to Social Security benefits.

  2. Steve

    A question. The Social Security # was only meant to be used for Social Security alone. In fact, because of concern about government intrusion in peoples’ lives if it became a national identification # used for many purposes, it was promised that it was only intended for this one purpose when the law establishing Social Security was before Congress.. That statement at the bottom of your card saying it isn’t to be used for ID purposes also referred to the #.
    So my question is, why hasn’t Social Security ever done anything to do prevent it’s wide spread use . The idea that one can keep it secret is absurd as now you can’t get a driver’s license or go to a doctor or dentist unless you are willing to give your #.

    • Ray F.

      Hi Steve. The use of the Social Security number (SSN) has expanded significantly since its inception in 1936. Created merely to keep track of the earnings history of U.S. workers for Social Security entitlement and benefit computation purposes, it has come to be used as a nearly universal identifier. Anyone can refuse to disclose his or her number, but the requester can refuse its services if you do not give it. Businesses, banks, schools, private agencies, etc., are free to request someone’s number and use it for any purpose that does not violate a federal or state law. Sometimes they will issue a different number if you ask.

  3. houriya

    what happened if somebody use your social because he has bad credit to have a good credit.

    • Ray F.

      If you think someone is using your number, there are several actions you can take. Visit our Frequently Asked Questions web page for more information.

  4. Avery

    Aw, this was a actually good post. In notion I would like to put in writing like this furthermore – taking time and actual effort to make a very superior article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no indicates seem to obtain one thing performed.

  5. Stanley A.

    I recommend….. TO NO AVAIL, years ago …. that PIN numbers be added to Social Security Numbers. Allow the PIN numbers to be controlled and changed by each owner. Same concept in use many years by commercial finance operations. Mandate pin numbers whenever establishing a financial account.

    • John O.

      Finally, someone with a constructive thought!

  6. Bill T.

    Why doesn’t the AARP fight for this removal of SS# from
    Medicare Cards they should carry some weight to represent us, instead of advertising free calculators, free
    junk import items to apply to auto insurance etc.

  7. MOTOC P.

    Estrarre selettivamente dalla mia tesi di dottorato dal titolo: POLLUTANT TRANSPORT MODELING ON RIVERS – 23.05.2008

    Dintre modelele numerice studiate se prezintă cel denumit SMS (Surface Water Modeling System), care este un program de calcul pre – , şi post – procesor pentru modelarea şi analiza curgerii cu suprafaţă liberă care include modele hidrodinamice uni, bi şi tridimensionale cu elemente şi diferenţe finite. Noi cercetări şi dezvoltări continuă la “Environmental Modeling Research Laboratory” (EMRL) la Universitatea Bringham Young în colaborare cu U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station (USACE – WES) şi U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). SMS 8.1 este un amplu program grafic, special conceput pentru a permite inginerilor şi oamenilor de ştiinţă să vizualizeze, să utilizeze şi să înţeleagă modelarea numerică şi hidrodinamică a râurilor, lacurilor, estuarelor şi zonelor de coastă, în sistem uni-, bi-, şi tridimensional.
    Modelele Conceptuale Există două metode principale pentru construirea modelelor în SMS, metoda directă şi metoda modelării conceptuale. Cu metoda directă, primul pas este să se creeze o reţea sau o grilă de discretizare. Parametrii modelului, datele sursă şi condiţiile la limită sunt atribuite direct şirurilor de noduri, nodurilor şi elementelor reţelei. Această metodă este potrivită numai pentru modelele foarte simple. Cea mai eficientă metodă pentru a realiza un model realist şi complex este metoda modelului conceptual. În această metodă este creat un model conceptual utilizând obiectele GIS, incluzând puncte, arce şi poligoane. Modelul conceptual este construit independent de reţea. Este o descriere de mare precizie a amplasamentului care cuprinde elemente geometrice cum sunt canalele şi malurile, limitele domeniului de modelat, debitele şi nivelurile apei de suprafaţă şi materialele zonelor din domeniul studiat împreună cu proprietăţile lor, de exemplu valoarea coeficientului Manning. În momentul în care modelul conceptual este terminat, o reţea este construită automat care să fie adecvată modelului conceptual, şi datele modelului sunt transformate de la modelul conceptual la elemente şi noduri pentru reţea.
    5.1 Descrierea programului RMA2
    RMA2 este un model numeric hidrodinamic bidimensional pentru adâncime medie bazat pe metoda elementelor finite. Acesta calculează nivelele (cotele) suprafeţei apei şi componentele orizontale ale vitezei pentru curgerea în regim lent la mişcarea bidimensională cu suprafaţa liberă. RMA2 procesează o soluţie pe bază de elemente finite a formei Reynolds a ecuaţiilor Navier – Stokes pentru curgerea turbulentă. Frecarea este calculată cu ecuaţia Manning sau Chezy, iar pentru definirea caracteristicilor turbulenţei se folosesc coeficienţii de difuzie turbulentă. Pot fi analizate problemele referitoare atât la regimul staţionar cât şi la cel nestaţionar (dinamic). Originea programului RMA2 în forma sa originală a fost dezvoltat de Norton, King şi Orlob, ingineri de Resurse de Apă, pentru Organizaţia Inginerilor din Districtul Walla Walla (Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers) şi a fost elaborat în 1973. King şi Roig de la Universitatea din California, Davis, au perfecţionat acest program, în special în ceea ce priveşte opţiunea privind porozitatea în zonele mlăştinoase. Îmbunătăţiri ulterioare au fost aduse de King si Norton de la Asociaţia de Management a Resurselor (RMA) şi de către laboratorul de hidraulică al Staţiei Experimentale Waterways (WES), culminând cu versiunea curentă a codului susţinut în TABS – MD. Aplicaţii ale RMA2 Programul a fost aplicat la calculul nivelelor apei şi distribuţia curgerii în jurul insulelor; curgerea la poduri cu una sau mai multe deschideri, la sectoare de râuri aflate în contracţie sau dilataţie, în interiorul şi exteriorul hidrocentralelor, la intersecţia râurilor, şi în interiorul sau în afara canalelor instalaţiilor de pompare; circulaţia şi transportul în apele din zone mlăştinoase; nivele ale apelor şi spectrele curgerii la râuri, rezervoare şi estuare.
    5.2 Descrierea programului RMA4
    RMA4 este un model numeric pentru transportul calităţii apei care se bazează pe metoda
    elementelor finite, în care distribuţia concentraţiei pe adâncime este presupusă uniformă. Acesta
    calculează concentraţiile pentru maxim 6 constituenţi, fie conservativi, fie neconservativi, în cadrul
    reţelei (grilei) de calcul a domeniului.
    Originea programului RMA4 a fost dezvoltat în forma sa originală în 1973 de către inginerii de Resurse de Apă, Norton, King şi Orlob, pentru Organizaţia Inginerilor din Districtul Walla Walla (Walla Walla District Corps of Engineers). Dezvoltări ulterioare au fost realizate de către King şi Rachiele de la Resource Management Associates (RMA) şi de către Wateryas Experiment Station (WES) Costal and Hydraulics Laboratory, culminând în actuala versiune a codului ce stă la baza SMS. Membrii laboratorului de hidraulică de la WES au realizat modulul de introducere al datelor şi restabilirea treptată a condiţiilor la limită după inversarea curgerii. Aplicaţii ale RMA4 Modelul de calitate al apei RMA4, este astfel realizat încât să simuleze procesul de advecţie – difuzie de adâncime medie, într-un mediu acvatic. Modelul este folosit pentru cercetarea proceselor fizice de migrare şi amestecare a substanţelor solubile în rezervoare, râuri, golfuri, estuare şi zone de coastă. Modelul este folositor pentru evaluarea proceselor de bază sau pentru definirea eficacităţii măsurilor de remediere. În cazul unei geometrii complexe, modelul RMA4 utilizează modelul hidrodinamic de adâncime medie al RMA2. Modelul de calitate al apei a fost aplicat pentru:
     Definirea distribuţiei orizontale a salinităţii;
     Detectarea efectelor temperaturii de la centrale;
     Calcularea timpilor de rezidenţă la porturi sau bazine;
     Optimizarea amplasamentelor locurilor de deversare;
     Identificarea potenţialelor arii critice în cazul scurgerilor de petrol şi carburanţi sau a altor poluanţi;
     Evaluarea gradului de poluare din jurul unei surse punctiforme;
     Monitorizarea altor criterii de calitate ale apei în cadrul habitatelor piscicole şi de vânat;
     Determinarea limitelor zonelor de intruziune a salinităţii;
     Definirea zonelor de amestec;
     Analiza hidraulică a evacuărilor.
    Selective Bibliography:

    1. EPA (2001). AQUATOX for windows, a modular fate and effects model for aquatic ecosystems. Technical documentation, Release 1, U.S. EPA office of water science and technology, 125
    Washington D.C. 20460, Volume 2;

    2. Council of European Communities (CEC). (1976b). Directive concerning pollution caused by dangerous substances discharged into the aquatic environment (76/464/ECC). Official Journal, L129;

    3. Course Notes on Transport Processes in the Environment: PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY, DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING ( Instructor: Scott A. Wells, Office: SB2 RM128, Phone: 503-725-4276, E-mail:, Office Hours: By appointment, Mailbox Location: CEE Office, Science Building 2, Room 128);

    4. Brigham Young University – Environmental Modeling Research Laboratory: Tutorials for the Surface-water Modeling System (SMS) version 8.0., March 15, 2002;

    5. Jolánkai, G., Bíro, I., Description of the CAL programme on Water Quality Modelling – Version 2 – Basic river and lake water quality models (with an outlook to “ecohzdrological” applications), Budapest, May 2000;

    6. Jolánkai, G., Hydrological, chemical and biological processes of contaminant transformation and transport in river and lake systems. IHP – IV Project H – 3.2, UNESCO, Paris, 1992;

    7. Fronteau C. (1999). Water quality management of river basins and evaluation of the impact of combined sewer overflows using an integrated modelling approach. Ph.D thesis, University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium;

    8. RO15UGBI0000172013900GBP.

    10. Laws E. A. (1993). Aquatic pollution: An introductory Text. 2nd edition, John Wiley and Sons, INC, New York.


    • TONY


  8. Eduardo S.

    Our Social Security Number (SSN) should be treated as a PUBLIC RECORD, as we treat our Names, Addresses, zip codes, Date of Birth, etc. SSN have been requested by ALL banks I have account, all landlords, all credit cards, all utility companies, all HR departments. Even when you don’t qualify for the account/job/etc, they have your information. You have NO idea how they protect information they store.

    Let’s face reality: hundreds, if not thousands of people have access to your SSN.

    As that said, let’s STOP treating SSN as a secret information because it is NOT.

    What is WORSE than an Organization trying to AUTHENTICATE you using a public information that thousands of people have? Once again, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER is NOT a private record. Sorry about the reality shock.

  9. Clara I.

    I’m very surprised when received by mail my Medicare Card with my SS# in them, because I never carry this with me. I grabbed the number in my mind. Please take action and introduce any change to Medicare to no longer put our SS# at risk

    • Ray F.

      Great news! A new Medicare card that will not display Social Security numbers.

  10. p b.

    SS is responsible for the largest HACK of all…they DO NOT KEEP YOUR STUFF SECURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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