Initially, your Social Security Number (SSN) was used by Uncle Sam to track your income and retirement benefits. But, over the years, this number has become a part o your personal identity. Your name and SSN are enough to get vital personal information about you. If any dishonest person get hold of your SSN, then he can create multiple credit accounts in your name within a few days. Worst part is you won't even know about this scam until you're turned down for loans or you start receiving collection calls from several unknown creditors.
Problems you may face when someone misuses your SSN
You may get entangled with various types of problems when someone misuses your SSN. Here are a few problems that you may face.
- You can get involved in a criminal case.
- Your credit score can drop by a huge number of points.
- Several types of negative items may appear on your credit report.
- You can get bankrupt.
- You may face tax woes without your fault.
Questions you should ask when someone asks for your SSN
The special nine digit number is the key to your financial castle. So, you should not give your number to anyone who asks for it. Throw various types of questions and see if the person can satisfy with you with his answers first.
Check out some questions you must never forget to ask.
- Ask why does he need your number.
- Ask how your SSN will be used.
- Ask about the consequences of not revealing your number.
- Ask if your SSN will be shared with any other person too.
- Ask about how your SSN will be stored and protected.
- Ask if you're compelled to reveal the number.
Where you need to give your nine digit number
You can reveal your SSN to these special entities for various financial reasons.
- Your employer
- The IRS
- Government sponsored programs
- U.S Treasury
How a thief can steal your Social Security Number
Identity thieves can steal the key to your financial mansion in the following ways:
- Steal your credit card statements and tax information.
- Steal your wallets and hack the password of your mail.
- Get your number from “inside sources”.*
- Steal your number from a website where you've given your SSN.
- Steal your number from personal records at work.
- Pose as your boss or employer and ask about your SSN.
- Get your personal data from the papers you dumped in trash.
*The store owner whom you've given your SSN for some goods and services.
Social Security Number – Do's and Don'ts
- Be careful about your Social Security Number
- Give your correct SSN to your employer
- Give the accurate number to financial institutions for tax issues
- Keep your financial papers in a safe place.
- Review your Social Security statements
- Don't carry your credit cards and financial papers 24*7.
- Don't reveal your number to a business if it seems unreasonable to you.
- Don't give your number just because someone asks for it.
- Don't change your SSN as you could lose your credit, academic and professional records.
What to do if anyone is using your SSN
Contact Social Security Administration when someone is using your number for work related matters. They will review your earnings and check if their records are accurate. Go through your Social Security statement at once and find out if there's any discrepancy. This statement is available to anyone who is above 18 years.
What to do when your SSN is stolen
Here's what you can do when your SSN is stolen.
- Contact the Social Security Administration and report the matter.
- Create an identity theft affidavit and report the issue to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Report the wrong information you've found on your credit report to FTC.
- File an identity theft report with the local law enforcement agency.
- Contact credit bureaus and place a fraud alert on your credit report.
- Contact each creditor and explain what has happened.
California law regarding public display of SSN
California laws prohibit financial institutions from displaying Social Security Numbers publicly. The law forbids:
- Asking users to give their SSN to log into a website, unless they also use a password.
- Asking users to give SSN online unless the connection is very secure.
- Businesses to print the number on postcards where it is easily visible to others.
- Businesses to type SSN on papers mailed to consumers, unless it is a form or any application or it is a legal requirement.
Social Security Number can make or break your financial fort. As such, you should always handle this special key with care. The moment you lose it to identity-thieves, various types of problems will creep into your life. It'll take thousands of dollars and months to resolve them.