Today, we are starting a new section on Fraud. This section is designed towards fraud and identity theft in general. No specific country or location will be mentioned unless they are identified as the source where the thievery is taking place.
Although still listed under the Fraud menu, consider these articles as general information guided towards
The consequences of stolen financial records have been discussed in this section earlier and there is no disagreement on the severity of it. However, there is a case of identity theft that tops among all the others and that is the theft of your Social Security Number.
For US citizens, Social Security Numbers (SSN) possesses an extreme importance, as it is the most integral element of an individual's identity authorized by the American government. Due to its great significance for an individual’s identity, SSNs hold much value for identity thieves because they can abuse its use in a variety of shadowy ways.
Using Banking and Financial Services
Identity thieves know that the SSN is the most important piece of personal detail needed to open an account, get a loan or to extend credit limits. They use the stolen SSN to avail financial benefits and vanish at the time of repayment. It will result in damaging your credit report and score.
With that said, here is a list of how to keep your social security number safe: (although this does not ensure guaranteed safety. It just helps to limit the possibility of being subjected to identity theft.
You are not obligated to supply this number to businesses outside of work, school, government agencies, banks and financial institutions and insurance companies. (e.g. If a rental car company asks for your SS number, you can legally refuse).
Using Medical Benefits
Stolen SNN can also be used to avail medical services on your name. It could badly affect your medical record and can have grave consequences if the record is tempered with fraudulent history. Criminals can also abuse your insurance coverage that can leave you in a tight spot in the time of need.
Fraudulent Tax Claims
Identity thieves can use your SSN to file a tax return in your name and then claims a fake refund from the government. You will only come to know about this theft in two ways.
You rightful tax return gets rejected
You will serve a notice from the Internal Revenue Service about the tax refund
Therefore, it is always better to file your tax returns as soon as possible so that criminals won’t have window to file fraudulent tax refund.
Using Your SSN for Criminal Activities
In more serious cases, your SSN can be used by criminals carrying out serious offenses. If they get arrested using your SSN then you have to go through a lengthy process to untangle yourself from the criminal records.
On the whole, SSN can be abused in various different ways in the garb of your identity. Thus, it is necessary to report the theft of SNN immediately.
Reporting Stolen SSN
In any case of SSN theft, there are multiple avenues where you should report to save yourself from the further inconvenience.
Report to any of the three credit-reporting bureaus
First off, contact any of the three major credit report agencies and notify them about the theft of your SSN. SSN theft to a credit bureau is reported so that a fraud alert can be put on your credit file in order to save our credit score from fraudulent maneuvers of identity thieves. They will renew the fraud alert every three months until the issue is resolved.
Report to Internal Revenue Service
You must also report the theft right away to Internal Revenue Service to prevent the fraudulent filing of tax returns in your name and to prevent the collection of a tax refund from identity thieves.
Report to Federal Trade Commission
Since stealing of SSN is a severe case of identity theft, therefore, it is necessary to report it on every respective platform. Federal Trade Commission has also launched recovery plans for different instances of identity theft and you must report your stolen SSN there as well.
Report identity theft to local police station
For the record, it is extremely important to report the theft of SSN to your local police station before the thieves use your identity for any shady and mischievous activity.
Report it to Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
In your reporting spree, don’t forget to file the SSN theft with FBI’s IC3. The report will be sent to the respective federal, state and local authorities. This report will also be used to strengthen your case when you will go to get a new SSN.
Keep records of all the reports and any fraudulent activity happened in your name because getting a new SSN is an uphill task and you have to prove that your old SSN has been used by fraudsters. Record of fraudulent use of your account is the substantial evidence from your account. You will have to go through severe hardships to prove that your identity has been stolen and it will still be the sole discretion of Social Security Administration whether they allow you a new number or not.
In case of stolen SSNs, you may need a professional lawyer to plead your case. One must be very careful in protecting his/her SSN. In our next article, we will discuss methods to protect your Social Security Number. Stay tuned!