Emailing Social Security Number Could Open Door for Hackers

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How Do Scammers Get Your SSN?

You may wonder how people get your Social Security Number. There are several ways this information can be obtained.

Data Breach

Although rare, a company’s data breach may result in your personal information getting into the hands of a scammer. Companies will usually notify you if this has been an issue and in many cases will pay for a subscription service to an anti-identity theft software.

Even rarer is the information being obtained by someone hacking your personal computer, phone, or other tech devices. It is advised that you shouldn’t access private accounts from public wifi networks where others can easily gain access, but we do have an article here to help you browse online safely.

Phone Call Scams

Lately, one of the more prominent issues with SSN piracy has been phone call scams. These are designed to play on people’s fear and build urgency so that you will provide private information over the phone.

They often come from strange phone numbers (Spoofed numbers) and the speaker makes threats like: “you’ll be taken to jail” or “your SSN has been compromised.” If you receive one of these calls disconnect the phone immediately and check your credit, bank statements, and other accounts. Although these scammers rarely have any of your personal information, it’s a good idea to keep an eye any changes to your credit history.

Your Social Security Card

Whether you’ve lost your social security card or someone an acquaintance used the number, this is another common way that someone has obtained this information. Keeping your social security card safe, not keeping it in your wallet, and making sure that no one can get to it is another way to protect your identity.

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Conclusion

Is it safe to give out your email address? Not always. You need to be careful about it. Protecting your email address and your Social Security number is a responsibility that you should not take lightly. Both are crucial personal information and essential components of your identity. You will face a lot of problems if they fall into the wrong hands. Keep in mind the tips we listed above to protect your personal information.

Do you use your email address for just about everything you do on the internet? What measures have you taken to keep it safe? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

They can use your SSN to identify themselves when picked up for criminal activity

In some types of SSN fraud, you, the victim, can get arrested and thrown in jail. This could happen if the SSN thief commits a crime and uses your name and SSN to identify himself when apprehended. Weisman said this scenario becomes even worse when the hacker posts bail and then doesn’t show up for the hearing. “In that event, criminal charges will be on record against the identity theft victim (you), who will have difficulty straightening this out,” said Weisman, an attorney who includes identity theft as part of his practice. Pro tip: If you do become a victim of this type of fraud, Weisman said you should contact the credit reporting agencies and demand they remove the false information from your credit report. You also should file a criminal complaint for identity theft with the local police so that it is a matter of record. Find Out More: How To Fix a Mistake on Your Credit Report

They can use your SSN to get a loan in your name

Steven J.J. Weisman, author of “Identity Theft Alert: 10 Rules You Must Follow to Protect Yourself from America’s #1 Crime,” said that one of the worst things an identity thief can do with your Social Security number is to obtain a loan in your name. To do this, the hacker would first need to use your SSN to access your credit reports. Then, using the data, an identity thief could get a loan in your name — and never pay it back. This is not only bad for your credit, Weisman said, but it can also affect your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, get insurance or obtain a loan. All of these things often depend on having a good credit report. If this type of fraud happens to you, you need to contact the lender involved, the police and the FTC. The issue can be difficult and time-consuming to fix. Pro tip: Weisman said it’s easier to safeguard your SSN than it is to repair ruined credit after someone has stolen it. “You should not carry your Social Security number in your wallet or purse,” he said. “You should not provide it as an identifying number to everyone who asks for it. Many places ask for it but don’t need it by law.” The lesson here: Always ask if your SSN is actually needed.

How to Protect Your SSN

Here are 10 things you can do to safeguard your SSN:

1. Offer an Alternative Form of ID

If a business or other organization asks for your SSN, offer your driver’s license number instead. Other alternative forms of ID include a passport, proof of current and previous address (such as utility bills), or even a student ID from a college or university.

2. Ask Why They Want It and How It Will Be Handled

If the business insists, ask questions. You have a right to know why it’s necessary to provide your SSN and how it will be handled. Ask questions such as:

  • Why is having my SSN necessary?
  • With whom will you share my number if I provide it?
  • How will my number be stored?
  • Do you have a privacy policy, and may I see it?
  • Will you cover my liability or losses if my number is stolen or compromised?

Unfortunately, if you are asked to provide your SSN to a business or an institution that doesn’t need it, and you say no, it can refuse to provide services to you or put conditions on the service—such as requiring a deposit or additional fees.

3. Leave Your Card at Home

Don’t carry your Social Security card around with you in your wallet or purse. Don’t enter your SSN into your phone, laptop, or other devices. It would be rare for you to need your card. Typically, reciting the number is all that’s required. Keep the number in your head and the card locked up at home.

4. Shred Mail and Documents With Personal Details

Discarded mail and documents are a magnet for identity thieves. Don’t just throw out papers that contain personal details such as your SSN. Get a paper shredder and use it on a regular basis. While you’re at it, don’t leave mail in an outside mailbox for long periods. Stealing mail is another way thieves can make off with your information.

5. Don’t Use Your SSN as a Password

Don’t use the whole SSN—or even a part of it—as a password. The password file can be stolen and decrypted, or someone can just watch you type it in from over your shoulder.

6. Don’t Send Your SSN via an Electronic Device

Never type your SSN into an email or instant message and send it. The majority of such messages can be intercepted and read. Also, don’t leave a voicemail that includes your SSN. If you need to contact someone and give them your number, it’s best to do it in person. The second best way is to reach them on the phone and do it live.

7. Don’t Give It out to Strangers

You should never provide your SSN to someone you don’t know who calls you on the phone and requests it. This same warning applies to unsolicited emails and any forms you fill out on the internet. In general, don’t give your SSN to anyone unless you are absolutely certain they have a reason and a right to have it.

8. Monitor Your Bank and Credit Card Accounts

Keep close tabs on your bank and credit card balances. This is one way to make sure your SSN and identity have not been compromised. Many banks let you sign up for account alerts. They will send you text messages or call you if transactions exceed a certain amount or if someone tries to use your SSN to access your account.

Check your credit score on a regular basis at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can usually only do this once a year for free, but due to COVID-19, you are allowed to get free weekly credit reports through April 20, 2022. If the Social Security Administration (SSA) is still sending you an annual statement detailing your earnings, and it looks out of whack, someone might be using your number for employment purposes. You can register to get statements at the SSA website.

The three credit reporting bureaus are offering free weekly credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com through April 20, 2022, due to the hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

9. Consider an Identity Protection Service

You can register with (and pay for) an identity protection service such as LifeLock, IdentityForce, or Identity Guard. Such companies charge fees that typically start around $10 a month. Banks and credit unions also have packages they sell to customers, as do major credit rating agencies such as Experian and TransUnion. Many of the best credit monitoring services also offer identity protection tools and services.

10. Don’t Forget to Protect Your Child’s SSN

While you are protecting your own SSN, make sure you are equally watchful about your children’s numbers. This is most often an issue at the doctor’s office. Fortunately, most medical facilities are more than happy to use an insurance account number instead of your SSN or your child’s.

Who Would Steal Your Social Security Number?

A thief can do a lot with your SSN, so it makes sense why someone would want to steal it from you. Unlike when other things get stolen from you, you may still know your Social Security number or have your Social Security card. The person who steals your SSN isn’t necessarily the person who uses the number against you. There are avenues that criminals use to buy and sell Social Security information to the highest bidder.

FAQ

How Can You Protect Your Social Security Number?

Protecting your Social Security number comes from monitoring your credit at least once a month. When someone uses your Social Security number, there will be a note on your record, and you can check and notice transactions that were not made by yourself. When this happens, be sure to consult a fraud agency to help you keep your losses to a minimum.

How Do I Check To See If Someone Is Using My Social Security Number?

You can invest in credit monitoring which will send you notifications when your record is accessed. Checking your bank account daily is a great step towards staying on top of your credit.

What Happens If Someone Gets My Social Security number?

When someone has your Social Security number, they can do damage to your credit, steal your social security benefits, and claim to be you in illegal or medical situations. This is considered identity theft.

Who Will Ask For My Social Security Information?

Banks, the Government, and the Department of Motor Vehicles will all ask for your Social Security information at some point. These institutions keep your information safe and use your personal information for services.

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