What Happens if Your Social Security Number Gets Stolen?

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with IDTheftSecurity.com Inc

It might be surprising to know that when Social Security numbers were first given out in the 1930s, that they were not used as a form of identification. However, whether you know it or not, most of us use our SSN every day, from visiting our doctor’s office to doing banking transactions. Your Social Security number is likely being accessed by humans and computers on a daily basis.

Your Social Security number is a form of verification, authentication, and it is even used as a password. Simply having it, simply knowing it, and entering it, verifies and authenticates its holder. However, it shouldn’t be like that at all.

You need your Social Security number to apply for a job, to open credit cards, and even to get married. Since we use this number so often, you might be wondering what happens if it gets stolen. Here’s what you should do:

Fraud Alert – The first thing to do is to get in contact with one of the three major credit bureaus. That one bureau then contacts the other two bureaus. You must put a fraud alert on your report. When you do this, a creditor or lender hopefully will use much stricter guidelines when they get a credit application. Keep in mind that these alerts only last for 365 days, but you can get an extension. Also keep in mind that this is not a full proof plan, the lender may not enable these stricter guidelines at all.

Credit Freezes – You should also consider freezing your credit. When this happens, you cannot use your credit to refinance or open a new line of credit until you go through the unfreezing process. Keep your credit frozen, and then unthaw it when you need it. Getting a credit freeze is a pretty simple process, it does require a bit of effort and organization, however it is a great way to protect your identity from new account fraud, we will discuss this in more detail and future posts.

Get ID Theft Protection – You should also think about getting ID theft protection. This can be an investment for some, but it also ensures that there is someone monitoring your credit 24/7. Identity theft protection services don’t actually protect you from much in the way of new account fraud, account take over, credit card fraud, criminal identity theft, tax related identity theft, medical related identity theft, but nothing else does either. However, what identity theft protection service does do is monitor your credit and there is an insurance component that kicks in and activates “identity theft expert restoration agents” that fix stolen identities. These people can get you back on track quickly if your identity is stolen.

Keep an Eye on Your Credit – If around 90 days have passed, and you don’t see anything weird on your credit report, don’t think that this automatically mean you are safe. A thief can use your info in other ways, too, so keep an eye on your credit report. Also keep in mind that your Social Security number can be used by a thief in perpetuity or until about six months after your perish. You can get a free copy online at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Be Cautious When Online – Finally, it is important that you make sure that you are using caution when online. Cybercriminal know every trick in the book, and people fall for them all of the time. Here are some things to remember:

  • Do not click on any email links. This is true even if it is from someone you know. Unless you are expecting it, do not click on anything in an email.
  • Do not open any email that is found in your spam folder.
  • Do not open emails that have sensational or exaggerated subject lines.
  • If you have the choice to use two-factor authentication, you should do it.
  • Have a firewall, an antivirus program, and anti-malware software.
  • Create a unique password for each account you have. Make sure that they are hard to guess, and don’t let them contain information like your name, pet’s name, etc.
  • Use a password manager.
  • Shred all of your documents that contain personal information before you put them into your garbage.
  • Don’t give your Social Security number out to anyone unless it is a total necessity.

Remember, if your credit is frozen and if you have identity theft protection combined, you have “multiple layers of security” and you can give your Social Security number out without much of a worry.

ROBERT SICILIANO CSP, is a #1 Best Selling Amazon author, CEO of CreditParent.com, the architect of the CSI Protection certification; a Cyber Social and Identity and Personal Protection security awareness training program.

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Rainmaker
3,573,851
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hello Robert... that is one thing I do fear... my SS number getting stolen... that and snakes.

Sep 09, 2020 09:18 AM #1
Rainmaker
3,997,779
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good afternoon Robert Siciliano ,

A very infomrative post..social security card theft happens and you have outlined great steps to prevent it from happening.

Sep 09, 2020 10:17 AM #2
Ambassador
4,338,608
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Robert- I was so happy when they finally quit putting SS numbers on our Medicare (yes I'm THAT old) cards. My only question is what took them so long. 

Sep 09, 2020 01:32 PM #3
Ambassador
4,338,608
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Sep 12, 2020 06:41 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,629,403
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Thank you for tips to use if our SS# is stolen. That would be such a hassle.

Sep 13, 2020 04:50 AM #5
Rainmaker
2,255,721
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Robert - I try to stay on top of mine although I continue to see new things theives are trying.

Sep 13, 2020 05:38 AM #6
Rainmaker
343,321
Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

A great list of ideas.  Most of us aren't devious thinkers, and we can't imagine what unscrupulous folks can do.  Our social security numbers are sold all over the world!  One tactic is even to not use the ID for a while, giving the owner a sense of "everything must be alright", then using it somewhere.

Sep 13, 2020 06:50 AM #7
Ambassador
2,380,049
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate - St. George, UT
So Utah Residential, Referral & Relocation REALTOR

Fantastic information we can all use Robert. Thank you for the tips!

Sep 13, 2020 08:19 AM #8
Rainmaker
552,583
Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

As to links to not click on, I'm pretty vigilant but this past week I got a text from a phone number that I did not recognize with the message that started with: "Hella, final notice for your USPS package (and a number) from (date).  Click: (I won't give the link to give them more traction).

It went to something totally unrelated and for a few minutes I couldn't get out of it so I turned my phone off.

DON'T FALL FOR IT!

Sep 13, 2020 11:33 AM #9
Ambassador
3,048,519
Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, CRS, Broker, Instructor
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ
602-380-4886

Great info Robert. I will pass this on to my clients and friends.

Sep 13, 2020 11:55 AM #10
Ambassador
4,301,249
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

This is such good information, Robert, and worth sharing with clients. Bookmarked.

Jeff

Sep 14, 2020 12:07 PM #11
Rainmaker
1,022,895
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Thank you for this invaluable advice.  I always wondered about this and now I know.  I'm very careful, but you never know!

Sep 14, 2020 09:38 PM #12
Rainmaker
1,025,068
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Great advice and simple to do and follow. Most of it I do have, but I lack the last element of identy theft protection, will change that today.

Sep 15, 2020 07:59 AM #13
Rainmaker
3,482,719
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Congrats to you on the feature from Kathy!  Great job!

Sep 18, 2020 07:21 AM #14
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Robert Siciliano

Realty Security and Identity Theft Expert Speaker
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