With scammers getting smarter every day, we have to be more vigilant with our personal data. Here’s a quick guide to social security fraud, keeping your social security card safe, and how to apply for a replacement card if you need one.
Common Social Security Scams
There are many different kinds of identity theft, but most scammers all have the same goal: using your personal information, credit card details, or your social security number (SSN) to gain access to your credit and finances.
You might receive calls from scammers posing as the Social Security Administration. They’ll probably ask you for your social security number or other personal details in order to “activate your account” after it’s been frozen for suspicious activities. It’s important to remember not to give out your social security number or banking details over the phone, as this is a common way scammers will get your personal data from you.
The SSA will never ask you to confirm your details over the phone, and any updates to your personal information need to be submitted online or at a social security office. As a general rule of thumb, if a caller asks for your personal details, hang up and call the organization’s registered phone number instead. The SSA runs a helpline on 1-800-7720-1213, so you can give them a call to check if you’re being contacted by the administration themselves. If they’re a legitimate caller, they won’t mind you doing this.
The Red Flags Of Identity Theft
We recommend being on the lookout for any suspicious activity on your accounts. Occasionally checking your bank statements for purchases you didn’t make will help you catch this early, and then you can take all necessary actions before more money goes missing. Another red flag of potential identity theft is an unexpected score on your yearly credit report. If your score is not what you believe it should be, it’s worth looking into your statements to discover what changed your rating. Social security scams may be on the rise, but you can be alert and keep your personal information safe.
As well as checking your statements, keep a close watch on the mail you receive. If regular bills are late, check up on the address you have registered to your account. Some scammers will change the address on your accounts so that important documents are forwarded to them, instead of the letters arriving to their intended owner.
Tax fraud is a common playground for scammers, so watch out for unauthorized tax transcripts, refunds, or rejected tax returns. These are all signs that someone may be using your personal details for their own gain.
What To Do If You Lose Your Social Security Card
Although your social security card may seem like a difficult item to replace, most people should be able to easily apply for a new card online. Provided you meet the requirements, you can visit the my Social Security site and fill out all the forms for a replacement card online. If you don’t live in a qualifying state, the process is as simple as filling out the forms and taking or mailing them to your nearest social security office.
To avoid losing the card in the future, it’s best to leave it in a safe place in your home. It’s not often that you need the physical card with you, and storing it in your wallet can increase the risk of it being stolen.
What To Do If You Suspect Fraudulent Actions
If you believe your identity has been stolen, the first thing you should do is report it. Visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s website is a good place to start, as they will guide you through all the steps you need to take. You can also report the matter to your local police department. Even if they cannot look into the crime itself, a police report will help you get a fraud alert placed on your credit report. The alert, which can last for up to seven years, serves as a notice to credit card companies, informing them that you have been a victim of identity theft.
Stay alert, and remember to report any scam attempts and phone numbers to the SSA Fraud Hotline on 1-800-269-0271.