How To Check if Someone Else is Using your Social Security Number
The world shifting to the cloud is great for the most part but it does present challenges. Identity theft is one such challenge and one that internet users have to mitigate against. If there is one part of your identity you do not want stolen, it’s your social security number. From there, the gates are wide open to wreak havoc.
This page will show you how to check if someone else is using your social security number and what to do if you think someone has been using it.
Your social security number, SSN, is the single most valuable piece of identification provided to an American. Other countries use them too but we depend on ours more than others for almost everything to do with government including taxes, healthcare, passport applications, employment and much more besides.
A stolen SSN can be used in any number of ways from accessing credit to filing fake taxes. They are often sold to criminals to make fake identities and can cause all kinds of trouble for the genuine owner. If you’re lucky, someone will just use it to get a job. If you’re unlucky, all bets are off!
Signs someone is using your social security number
The signs of someone using your social security number can include letters or calls from creditors or collection agents you don’t owe money to, banks or credit cards following up on late payments or new credit confirmation letters for loans or other lending. A sudden drop in your credit score is also another indicator that things are not right.
If you have trouble filing taxes that don’t include the usual frustrations, that could also be a sign of someone using your social security number. If you see ‘Someone has already filed in your name’ or see changes in earnings or income on your IRS statement, that could also be a sign.
These are not sure signs of someone using your social security number though. They could be clerical errors or genuine mistakes. If you experience any of these, it makes sense to check just in case.
Check if someone is using your social security number
The fastest way to find out if someone is using your social security number is to check your tax return. Log onto the IRS and see what has been going on. If you see something amiss, check the three credit reference agencies to look for unusual behavior.
The three agencies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Contact each and request your free credit report. You are entitled to a free report every 12 months so request one from each and read it carefully. Look for anything on there that doesn’t look right. Credit card applications, loan applications, any debt you don’t recognize or anything that doesn’t look right.
- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 – equifax.com
- Experian: 1-888-397-3742 – experian.com
- TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289 – transunion.com
What to do if someone is using your social security number
If you think someone is using your social security number, you need to move quickly. You have four things you need to do. You need to contact the Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft, contact the credit reference agencies to report, contact the Social Security Administration and contact your local police.
- The FTC is at 1-877-438-4338 or https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/. There is a form to complete to report the identity theft.
- Contact the three credit reference agencies and ask them to place a freeze on your credit report. This will prevent any new applications being created in your name. This will stop more debt from piling up.
- Contact the SSA on 1-800-269-0271 or Log on to the IRS Identity Protection website to alert them and prevent any tax returns being filed in your name.
- Optionally, but recommended, alert the Internet Crime Complaints Center at http://www.ic3.gov/. They alert other agencies that your SSN has been compromised.
Once all that has been done, report the crime to your local police. If you know how the theft took place, like you had your wallet stolen, report it to the local police where the theft would have happened.
Finally, go through your credit report, identify any activity you don’t recognize and contact each organization directly through their customer services helpline. Explain the situation and work with them to sort out what has happened and what to do next. Do this for all instances where fraudulent activity has occurred on your account.
If someone else is using your social security number it is vital that you act quickly. Any delay can mean more debt and another lender you have to work with to get things sorted out. Fortunately, most institutions are well practiced in handling identity theft and have teams and processes in place to help. It will take time and a lot of work on your part but it is perfectly possible to get yourself back to the position you were in before the theft happened.