Privacy 101 🧠

How to know if someone is using your social security number

One of the most dangerous forms of identity theft is a stolen SSN. But how do you know if someone is using your Social Security number? Here are a few telltale signs.

Your SSN is the key to your identity. And that’s why it’s so vulnerable: if a hacker gets ahold of it, they’re able to crack open the most secure of accounts and wreak havoc on your life. But how do you know if someone is using your social security number?

As soon as hackers have access to your SSN, they’ll have the ability to access your bank accounts, open new accounts in your name, open lines of credit and credit cards, obtain your tax return, take our loans, use your health coverage and open utilities and memberships in your name.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows when they’ve been a victim of Social Security number identity theft. To stay safe and protect your privacy (and sanity), you need to learn how to tell if someone is using your social security number.

Is your personal information in the wrong hands? Use Privacy Bee’s free Data Breach Checker to find out.

Telltale signs that your social security number has been hacked

There’s no easy one-click way to check if your SSN is being abused by hackers. You’ll need to do a little sleuthing and stay aware of your financial health. Here are some indicators that someone is using your social security number:

#1: Unexplainable changes in your credit score

Your credit score is what helps banks and lenders to determine what risks they’ll be facing if they decide to lend you money. That is, based on your track record, it shows them how likely you are to pay back the loan. Different financial factors influence your credit score. Thankfully, you can check it to see how you’re doing financially so you can make corrections where necessary.

If you check your credit information and notice accounts that you didn’t initiate, you’re probably a victim of SSN theft. Another sign is if you are turned down for a new credit application even though you’ve had great credit before.

#2: Inaccurate banking information

Considering that almost any Social Security number identity theft aims to steal your money, this is another excellent way to check if you’ve been hacked. Therefore, when your bank statements come in, be sure to look through them carefully. If you see payments for any subscriptions you didn’t make, it’s possible your ID isn’t just yours anymore.

If you notice small test charges on your credit or debit accounts, that may be a sign that someone is attempting to open a new account or membership in your name.

#3: Changes in your email/snail mail

Another tactic that scammers and hackers use is to watch your email for anything valuable and steal it as soon as it comes in.

So, if you’re noticing any changes in your email such as not receiving bank statements or invoices, this could be a sign that you’ve been a victim of identity theft using your SSN. Among others, two major types of changes are possible. The first is that you may stop receiving email notifications for purchases that you make. 

You might also start receiving notifications for purchases you didn’t make. That could include mail arriving at your house addressed to strange people! Once people use your SSN to sign up for accounts, this can lead to a bizarre snail mail trail.

#4: False employment records

Another common practice with SSN theft is the perpetrator using your Social Security number to get a job or pass a background check. Thankfully, any earnings will show up on your personal statement.

If you haven’t already, create an account at the official Social Security website to check all income that has been posted to your number. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, contact the Social Security Administration.

#5: Correspondence from the IRS

Before we go ahead to make this point, you should know that the IRS almost never calls people. We can’t say why, but we do know that they don’t do it. 

However, barring any tax issues, it may be that you’re on the receiving end of an SSN hack if you’re getting messages from the IRS. The chances are that they see suspicious transactions involving your Social Security number and may be contacting you about a potential case of identity theft.

#6: Messages from credit agencies

This is the surest sign of an SSN theft. If your credit company calls you about an issue, someone may have opened another credit line with your SSN.

#7: A fraudulent tax return

Did you know that you can request your most recent tax transcript from the IRS? This is the easiest way to see if someone has submitted a fraudulent tax return.

It’s easy to make a request via the tax transcript tool on the IRS website. You can also make the request over the phone or mail:

  • Call the IRS at 1-800-908-9946.
  • Send the IRS Form 4506-T to get your transcripts by mail.

So…what do you do if someone is using your social security number?

A stolen SSN causes endless headaches. So it’s important to act as soon as you notice that someone is using your Social Security number. Any delay could mean loans taken out in your name or a stolen tax refund — in other words, hours of your time to unravel the mess!

The Social Security Administration recommends the following:

  1. Log on to your mySSN account to check your earnings record. This will let you know if someone has been fraudulently using your SSN to get a job or take out a loan.
  2. If something looks fishy, go through the steps at the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft page. That way you can start the process of protecting yourself and taking back control. Call the FTC at 1-877-438-4338 or submit online.
  3. Contact the SSA on 1-800-269-0271 or alert them via the IRS Identity Protection website so that no one files a tax return and steals your refund!
  4. You may want to file a police report in the local jurisdiction where the identity theft took place so that you have a record of the incident. That may come in handy!

Even if your Social Security number isn’t being used improperly, there are still a litany of other threats to your privacy. But there are ways to counter those threats! Here’s what to do if your identity is stolen.