A stolen Social Security number is serious. From tax fraud to credit fraud, find out what you need to do.
Having your Social Security number stolen is a serious matter, because it can lead to identity theft. While it's unlikely you will be able to discover on your own who stole your SSN, you may be able to find out how they are using it and help the authorities to find the culprit. It's not just your Social Security benefits that may be at stake. Your credit rating and your tax record could also be damaged.
Review Your Social Security Earnings Record
Go to SSA.gov and create a personal account if you don’t already have one. Once you have a personal Social Security account, you can request a Social Security statement, which displays the income attributed to your SSN by the Social Security Administration. You also have the option to go to a local Social Security Administration office to get a statement. If you see any inconsistencies between what is listed in the statement and what you know your income is, someone may have stolen your identity to commit tax fraud. Contact the IRS immediately at 800-908-4490 or by visiting the IRS Identity Protection website.
Review Your Credit Reports
Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and request your free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You're entitled to a free report from each of these credit bureaus every year. Your credit reports include a list of all of your debts, as well as a list of any companies that have made an inquiry into your credit history. If you see any debts listed that you didn't sign for, or if a company that you have never dealt with has made an inquiry into your credit history, someone may be using your identity for credit fraud.
If you do see indications of fraud on your credit reports, contact the creditors immediately. Also place a free 90-day fraud alert on your three credit reports by contacting Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. When you place a fraud alert on one credit report, the credit bureau contacts the other two to alert them as well. A fraud alert means that if a potential creditor looks at your report, they'll see the alert and won't give credit to the person trying to use your information.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission
If your identity has been stolen for any reason, including tax fraud or credit fraud, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the crime by registering at IdentityTheft.gov and filling out an identity theft report. Once you have registered, the FTC walks you through the steps to help you recover your identity. The identity theft report can also protect you should creditors or debt collection agencies come after you for money you didn't borrow. The FTC will provide you with sample letters you can send to creditors and debt collection agencies.
Call the Police
In addition to reporting identity theft to the FTC, report it to the local police. If you know the identity theft took place somewhere else, like if your wallet was stolen in a different city, you can file a police report in that jurisdiction instead. Bring a copy of your FTC identity theft report, a government-issued photo ID and proof of your address. Also bring any evidence of the theft, like bills issued in your name.