Your Social Security Number, also known as SSN, is the key to your identity. If anyone gets a hold of it, they can steal your identity and easily impersonate you.
Unfortunately, an SSN can be vulnerable to theft. A hacker can crack open the most secure of accounts that you have and wreak havoc on your life if they get ahold of it. This makes most people wonder, "How can I check to see if someone is using my Social Security Number?"
As soon as a hacker gets access to your SSN, they will be able to do a host of things, including access your bank accounts, open lines of credit and new accounts in your name, open new credit cards, obtain your tax return, open memberships in your name, take out loans, and even use your health coverage.
Sadly, not everyone recognizes when they are a victim of Social Security Number identity theft. Someone in California might be using your SSN while you are in New York, and you might not even realize if you don't pay attention.
To ensure you stay safe and to protect your sanity, it’s important to learn how you can tell if someone is using your SSN.
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
There are many types of social security scams, which means that fraud signs can take various forms. Certain types of fraud are easier to figure out than others.
What causes identity theft can differ as well. Some thieves steal wallets, whereas others gain illegal access to sensitive documents during a home burglary.
Here are some common ways in which identity theft takes place:
- Mail fraud: Hackers that intercept your mail can get their hands on everything from credit and debit card info to checks in your name.
- Online shopping fraud: Public Wi-Fi networks can steal your data when while you are shopping online. Many fake merchant websites can collect your payment information at checkout and use it to steal your identity.
- Tax identity theft: Someone can file a tax return in your name and then make money with your tax refund. You might not become aware of this fraud until you go to file your taxes.
- Medical identity theft: Someone can pose as you and receive medical care in your name.
How to Detect If Someone Is Using Your Social Security Number
There are many ways you may be able to detect that someone may be using you SSN without your knowledge:
1. You Can't Explain the Changes in Your Credit Score.
Your credit score enables lenders and banks to determine how much risk they will be exposed to if they decide to lend money to you. Different financial factors can influence this score. However, you can always check this score to see how well you are doing financially and make corrections where needed.
If you check your credit report and see any accounts that you didn't launch or loans that you didn't apply for/take, your SSN has plausibly been stolen. Another sign to watch out for is being turned down for a new credit application, even though your credit score has always been amazing.
2. There Is Inaccurate Information in Your Banking Statements.
The main aim of a Social Security Number identity thief is to steal your money. Hence, your bank statements are a great way to check if you have been hacked.
Take a look at your bank statements carefully. If you see any payments for any subscriptions you didn't make, you are most likely dealing with a stolen SSN. Even small fees on your credit or debit accounts indicate that someone is trying to open membership or a new account in your name.
3. Changes Have Been Made to Your Email.
Another popular tactic that thieves and hackers use is watching your email for any valuable information and stealing it as soon as it comes. Hence, if you notice changes in your email, such as not receiving invoices or bank statements, or receipts, this could be a sign that your SSN has been stolen.
There are two types of email changes that you need to keep an eye out for:
- When you do not receive email notifications for any purchases that you make.
- When you begin to receive notifications for purchases that you did not make. This can include mail arriving at your doorstep addressed to people you don't know.
4. Your Employment Records Are False.
A big issue with a stolen SSN is that many people steal it to pass a background check or get a job. Thankfully, even if they manage to get a job, their earnings will show up on your personal statement, and you can verify them.
If you haven't done so already, you must create an account at the official Social Security website to check all the income that has been posted to your SSN. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, you must take corrective action immediately.
5. The IRS Is Contacting You.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) never contacts people. If you are receiving any sort of correspondence from the IRS, it is highly likely that your SSN has been stolen, making you a victim of identity theft. The chances are that the IRS has noticed suspicious transactions involving your Social Security Number and is contacting you about the potential case of identity theft.
What to Do If Someone Is Using Your Stolen SSN
A stolen SSN can cause endless headaches, so you must take action soon as you notice that someone is using your SSN. Any delays would mean loans are taken out in your name, expensive purchases made, or stolen tax refunds. You won't be able to unravel the mess if it gets too late!
The Social Security Administration recommends that you:
Sign in to your mySSN account to check your earnings record. If someone has used your SSN to get a job or take out a loan, you will know.
If something looks fishy in your earning record, go through the steps mentioned on the Federal Trade Commission's Identity Theft page. You can get in touch with them to begin the process of taking back control and protecting yourself in the future. You can also call the FTC at 1-877-438-4338.
You should dial 1-800-269-0271 to get in touch with SSA or alert them via the IRS Identity Protection website so that no one can steal your tax refund or files a tax return in your name.
File a police report in the local jurisdiction where your identity theft took place to establish a record of the incident. This can come in handy when you find the thief.
SSN theft can be a huge problem that you can avoid if you pay attention to your statements, check your credit score regularly, and keep your eyes and ears open to changes that might be occurring on any of your personal accounts.