We can understand your apprehension about someone knowing your Social Security number (SSN) but SSA cannot place a fraud alert on your Social Security number. There are several steps that you can take to protect yourself if you believe that your SSN has been compromised.
If your card has been lost or stolen, you should apply for a replacement card. Details on replacing your card can be found at
How do I replace a lost Social Security card?How do I replace a lost Social Security card?
Always keep your card in a safe place. Do not carry it with you unless you need it for a specific purpose, such as to apply for a job. You can prevent the loss or misuse of your card by keeping it with other valuable personal documents, such as your insurance papers and birth certificate.
WHAT SSA CAN DO
We have safeguards built into our systems to prevent people from using the same SSN. When employers report wages and taxes for their payrolls, we verify the accuracy of the name and SSN before posting the earnings. This matching operation immediately locates situations where someone is working under their own name, but under someone else's SSN. These earnings are posted to the Suspense File where they may be resolved at a future date.
We also have a process called "reconciliation," that we run jointly with the IRS. One of the purposes of reconciliation is to detect situations where an individual is working under the name and SSN of someone else.
Your earnings record is the only record that we can correct. We have no jurisdiction over records maintained by others, even if you were required to provide your SSN to obtain their services.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you suspect that someone else is using your SSN for work, or you have received notice from the IRS of unreported taxable income that is not yours, you should report the problem to SSA by calling 1-800-772-1213. Our representatives will take the appropriate action to ensure that your Social Security records are correct.
If your SSN has been used to run up bills or to obtain credit, Social Security cannot straighten out your credit record. However, we suggest you take the following steps:
1. Check your SSA earnings record. You can request a Social Security Statement to verify the accuracy of the reported earnings and request correction if necessary.
Details on requesting a Statement can be found at the following Internet address: www.socialsecurity.gov/statement
2. Notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC also makes available an identity theft web page at the Internet address: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
Hearing-impaired individuals may call the "TTY" number, 202-326-2502.
Congress has directed the FTC to establish a centralized database to receive all allegations of identity theft and to provide victims with information to help resolve problems with identity theft.
3. File a report with the local police or the police department where the identity theft took place, and keep a copy of the police report as proof of the crime.
4. Contact the fraud units of the three major credit-reporting bureaus:
-- Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; or Internet: http://www.equifax.com
-- Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289; or Internet: http://www.transunion.com/
-- Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742); or Internet: http://www.experian.com
-- Identify yourself as an identity theft victim.
-- Request that fraud alerts be placed on your credit records requiring creditors to contact you before approving new credit or making any changes to an existing account.
-- Ask for copies of your credit reports. (There may be a cost.)
5. Call each creditor to report fraud for any account that has been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
6. Close the credit accounts that you know or believe have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
In October 1998, Congress passed the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998 (Identity Theft Act) to address the problem of identity theft. Specifically, the Act amended 18 U.S.C. Section 1028 to make it a federal crime when anyone:
"knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law."
Violations of the Act are investigated by federal investigative agencies such as the U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and prosecuted by the Department of Justice.
Additional information may be found in our publications, "Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number," publication number 05-10064, and "Your Social Security Number and Card," publication number 05-10002.