About 33% of Americans have had their identity stolen.
Each year, 15 million Americans are the victims of identity theft.
Social Security numbers are a hot commodity on the black market.
There are ways to protect yourself if your identity is stolen.
Do This IMMEDIATELY If Your Social Security Number Becomes Compromised
(NewsReady.com) – Every year, roughly 15 million Americans become the victims of identity theft. This crime can completely upend a person’s life and financial well-being, and it can take years to undo the damage. What’s worse, adults aren’t the only ones whose identity is stolen. One million kids are the victims of this kind of theft annually.
In the age of technology, thieves are able to steal a person’s identity in a number of different ways, including stealing their Social Security number (SSN). Fortunately, there are ways for Americans to protect themselves from this theft. Better yet, they can prevent it from ever becoming a problem.
Social Security Number Theft: What to Do
SSN theft costs victims billions of dollars every year. Those nine digits are arguably the most important numbers a person will have associated with them throughout their life. They need it for everything, from connecting electricity to buying a home. Once thieves have the number, they can take out fraudulent loans, open bank accounts, file taxes, and decimate a person’s credit score.
If someone believes they’re the victim of SSN theft, the first thing they should do is contact the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. They need to ask the agencies to place a fraud alert on their credit file and freeze it. That prevents anyone from taking out new accounts in their name.
After contacting the credit agencies, the victim needs to report the theft to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICCC). If someone has had significant damage inflicted on their credit, they might be able to get a new SSN, but it isn’t easy. To start that process, they need to fill out a form; the rest is up to the SSA.
How to Prevent SSN Theft
Preventing SSN theft is similar to preventing any other sort of identity theft. Here are some ways to prevent your number from being stolen:
- Don’t give it to anyone but government, employment, or financial institutions
- Shred documents with your personal information
- Don’t use your SSN as a password or write it down anywhere
- Never carry your card around in your wallet or purse
- Don’t send your SSN through text, email, or any other electronic means
- Monitor your credit reports and bank accounts
- Keep track of your credit score and watch for significant changes
- Don’t open emails from unknown senders
Remember, protect your SSN like you would your bank information.
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