In the United States, a person’s Social Security Number is very important in your day-to-day life. A Social Security Number or SSN is a nine-digit number that is used to verify your identity. While originally created to monitor the earnings history of people in the United States in order to determine their Social Security benefits, there are now many types of information linked with your SSN. Now, your Social Security Number can be used to track your employment history, credit history, medical records, school records, tax information, and more.
But what if you find out that someone else is using your Social Security Number for employment? What should you do? In this article, we will talk about the steps that you could take if this happens to you. We will also discuss what other risks are involved if you find out that someone else is using your Social Security Number.
Why is someone using my Social Security Number for employment?
You might have heard of people stealing Social Security Numbers to commit fraud and to try to steal money from you. However, if you find out that your SSN is being used by someone to get a job, you might be confused why this is even happening. Don’t these people have their own Social Security numbers? Why do they need someone else’s?
This practice of using another individual’s SSN to get a job is called “Employee-related identity fraud”. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, they were able to identify over 1.3 million Social Security Numbers that were associated with signs of potential fraud such as wages reported for children or the elderly.
Many people who do this are those who are not authorized to work in the United States, those who are avoiding child support payments, or those who are hiding their own identity to avoid the law. For example, if someone is in hiding because of a crime, he might use another person’s SSN in order to get a job so he can still earn money without revealing his true identity.
Children are common victims of this type of identity-theft because most parents are not really conscious about protecting their children’s Social Security Numbers. And since most children do not really use their SSN for employment or credit purposes until they reach their late teenage years, the fraud can go undetected for years. According to a 2018 study, over 1 million children have their identities stolen every year.
How to check if someone is using my identity or SSN for employment
Are you wondering whether it is possible to check whether someone is using your personal SSN? Yes, it is possible to check by yourself. If you suspect that your Social Security Number is being used falsely, you can review your Social Security records to check for inaccuracies. Follow the steps indicated below:
Step 1: Go to the My Social Security page of the Social Security website
This page will allow you to sign in to your online account related to your Social Security. It is an online portal that will give you easy access to all the online Social Security Services. It will also allow you to check your account, change your address and verify your earnings, among other things. If you do not have an account yet, you can also create an account by going to this age.
Step 2: Check your account for any inconsistencies
Once you are logged in, you can now review your account to see if all the information is correct. Are all the details related to your earning records correct? Are there wages recorded all yours? By checking these things, you will have an idea whether someone else is using your SSN for employment.
If you find any errors or inconsistencies, you can then proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Visit the FTC Identity Theft page to rectify the issue
The Federal Trade Commission or FTC has set up a one-stop shop for people who believe that they have been victims of identity theft.
By visiting identitytheft.gov, you can be guided on the step-by-step process that you need to follow to rectify the fraud. The forms you need as well as the contact numbers are also available on the website.
This website has an extensive list of things you need to do which includes the following:
- Reporting the identity theft to the FTC. You can also call 1-877-438-4338.
- Reporting the identity theft to your local police station.
- How to contact the IRS if you are a victim of a tax identity theft. You can also call 1-800-908-4490.
- Contacting the companies where the fraud occurred
- Getting copies of your credit report and placing a fraud alert with the 3 major credit bureaus.
You will also find a comprehensive guide on how to repair the damage on the website including:
- Closing the new fraudulent accounts opened in your name.
- Removing the false charges from your accounts.
- Disputing and correcting fraudulent entries in your credit report.
- How to place a credit freeze or an extended fraud alert.
- Stopping debt collectors from collecting fraudulent debts
- Clearing your name of any legal or criminal charges
- How to contact different public and private companies where your SSN or identity may have been used fraudulently.
What can someone do with your social security number?
If your Social Security Number is compromised, you might be wondering what are the possible things that a person can do with this information. Below are some of the things a person can do with your social security number.
1. Use your SSN to get a job
As discussed earlier in the article, using another person’s Social Security Number to get employment is a form of identity theft. People who are not allowed to legally work in the United States may use a fake SSN so they can get a job.
2. Use your SSN to open bank accounts and credit accounts
A person can use your SSN to open bank accounts and later on open credit cards or get a loan. You could end up having mountains of debt without even seeing a single cent of the money you owe. This will also affect your credit report and affect your ability to get credit in the future.
3. Use your SSN to get a tax refund
It is also possible for a person to claim your tax refund on your behalf. If this happens to you, you would have to resolve the problem before you can be issued the refund that you deserve.
4. Use your SSN to commit or escape from crimes
Your SSN could also be used by a person who is arrested for a crime by giving your number to the law enforcement officials. This could get you involved in the crime and could affect your criminal record even if you are innocent.
5. Use your SSN to get medical benefits
It is also not uncommon for a person to use your Social Security number to receive medical care. This can be a headache to resolve because it could taint your personal medical records. An inaccurate medical record could interfere with your medical care when you need it
6.Use your SSN to claim your benefits
A person could also use your Social Security Number to claim your Social Security Benefits or unemployment benefits. When you need to claim what is rightfully yours, you might find that your benefits have been claimed already.
Can someone access my bank account with my Social Security Number?
In most cases, NO. Even if someone has your Social Security Number, it will be quite difficult for them to access your bank account. If a stranger gets hold of your SSN, that person would have to know where you are banking to even attempt accessing your bank account.
If the person who has your SSN knows additional personal details about you such as your name, date of birth, mother’s name, and name of your bank, that person would still have to know the log-in details of your online banking account (username and password) before they can access your bank account online. Plus, most financial institutions now have two-step verification processes in their online banking systems.
The person could still try to access your account by phone or by physically going to the bank but they still would need to go through the bank’s verification process such as answering secret questions, knowing details about your recent transactions, or by showing photo ID.
Should I get a new Social Security Number if I am a victim of employment-related identity theft?
What if you’ve done everything you could to resolve the problem but someone else is still using your Social Security Number? Will you be issued a new SSN? According to the Social Security Administration, they may assign you a new number if you can show evidence that someone else is using your number. You will also need to prove your identity, age, U.S. citizenship, or immigration status.
You have to be aware, however, that having a new SSN does not necessarily mean a fresh start. Some of your old accounts and transactions can still be tied with your old number and this could be used to determine your credit history. If your old number is not linked with your new number, it could also create problems for you when opening new credit accounts because of your lack of credit history.
How to protect yourself from identity-theft
To protect yourself from this type of fraud, you have to keep your SSN private. Don’t disclose your number if not necessary. As much as possible, avoid emailing or texting your personal information as these can be hacked as well. If you are still receiving physical mail (bills, bank statements, tax information, benefit statements, etc.), make sure that you don’t leave them lying around in your postal mailbox or in a public place (eg in a bin placed outside your home!) where other people can access them. These documents would usually have your personal details including your Social Security number, full name, phone number, and more.
With identity theft cases involving Social Security Numbers increasing in the United States, there is really no guarantee that you’ll be 100% protected. However, by being extra careful and by protecting your private details, you can give yourself an extra layer of protection and peace of mind.