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Identity Theft And Your Social Security NumberSSA Publication No. 05-10064, October 2007, ICN 463270 [View .pdf] (En Español)
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. A dishonest person who has your Social Security number can use it to get other personal information about you. Identity thieves can use your number and your good credit to apply for more credit in your name. Then, they use the credit cards and do not pay the bills. You may not find out that someone is using your number until you are turned down for credit or you begin to get calls from unknown creditors demanding payment for items you never bought.
Someone illegally using your Social Security number and assuming your identity can cause a lot of problems.
The Social Security Administration protects your Social Security number and keeps your records confidential. We do not give your number to anyone, except when authorized by law. You should be careful about sharing your number, even when you are asked for it. You should ask why your number is needed, how it will be used and what will happen if you refuse. The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give out your Social Security number.
Identity thieves get your personal information by:
Buying personal information from “inside” sources. For example, an identity thief may pay a store employee for information about you that appears on an application for goods, services or credit.
Show your card to your employer when you start a job so your records are correct. Provide your Social Security number to your financial institution(s) for tax reporting purposes. Keep your card and any other document that shows your Social Security number on it in a safe place. DO NOT routinely carry your card or other documents that display your number.
Sometimes more than one person uses the same Social Security number, either on purpose or by accident. If you suspect that someone else is using your number for work purposes, you should contact us to report the problem. We will review your earnings with you to ensure that our records are correct.
You also may review earnings posted to your record on your Social Security Statement (Form SSA-7005). The Statement is mailed automatically each year to workers age 25 and older. You also can get a Statement at any time by requesting one online or by calling our 800 number.
If someone has misused your Social Security number or other personal information to create credit or other problems for you, Social Security cannot resolve these problems. You should contact the Federal Trade Commission for help.
You can contact the Federal Trade Commission by:
If you have done all you can to fix the problems resulting from misuse of your Social Security number and someone still is using your number, we may assign you a new number.
You cannot get a new Social Security number:
If you decide to apply for a new number, you will need to prove your age, U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status and identity. For more information, ask for Your Social Security Number And Card (Publication Number 05-10002).
You also will need to provide evidence that you still are being disadvantaged by the misuse.
Keep in mind that a new number probably will not solve all your problems. This is because other governmental agencies (such as the Internal Revenue Service and state motor vehicle agencies) and private businesses (such as banks and credit reporting companies) likely will have records under your old number. Also, because credit reporting companies use the number, along with other personal information, to identify your credit record, using a new number will not guarantee you a fresh start. This is especially true if your other personal information, such as your name and address, remains the same.
If you receive a new Social Security number, you will not be able use the old number anymore.
For some victims of identity theft, a new number actually creates new problems. If the old credit information is not associated with the new number, the absence of any credit history under the new number may make it more difficult for you to get credit.
Our website is a valuable resource for information about all of Social Security’s programs. There are a number of things you can do online.
In addition to using our website, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. We can answer specific questions from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. We can provide information by automated phone service 24 hours a day. (You can use our automated response system to tell us a new address or request a replacement Medicare card.) If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.
We treat all calls confidentially. We also want to make sure you receive accurate and courteous service. That is why we have a second Social Security representative monitor some telephone calls.