In this day and age of technology and people being able to hack or breach just about anything, people are becoming more worried than they ever have been about becoming a victim of identity theft. Unfortunately, millions of people have had their social security numbers stolen and used for something that they would never have done in a million years. In the last couple of years alone, there have been over 145 million people who have fallen as a victim of social security or identity theft and had their information exposed for the whole world to see.
In addition to your information being exposed online, there are other ways that your social security number can be detected. Sensitive documents can be stolen out of your mailbox without your knowledge; a person can rummage through your trash can, people often pose as someone who works for a trusted institution to gain your trust and have you hand your number right over.
If your social security number gets stolen, all hope is not lost. There are a few things you can do if your information gets taken so that you can protect yourself and get your life back to how it should be. Below are the steps you can do to get your things back to normal and get your information on the lockdown as it should be.
Go to a trusted government agency as fast as you can
Once you find out that your number has been stolen, call the Social Security Administration as soon as possible. This administration will direct you straight to the Federal Trade Commission’s website. This website is IdentityTheft.gov which means they are specialized to handle precisely this type of issue.
If the thought of going to this website seems overwhelming, you can drive down to your local police precinct and talk to them about filing a police report. If you live in a small town or city, then they may not be able to investigate to the full extent. Even if you do go to the identity theft website, you may still want to go to the police precinct in your local jurisdiction as having a police report on the record can be a crucial step in the recovery process of your identity.
Talk to the three major credit bureaus and have them all freeze your credit
This step is going to affect you and can cause a big upset in your life when you have to do it. However, this decision is better than the alternative of knowing that someone is out there using your credit and your identity to do things in your name. It is vital to get to the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian, and Experian, immediately after you make a police report or talk to the Federal Trade Commission.
You need to go to these credit reporting bureaus and tell them what is happening. They can help you create a fraud alert that will stay on the record for seven years. When you have a fraud alert, it will raise red flags any time something major on your credit is attempting to be used for seven years, which means they will have to go directly to you to make sure it is you really using your identity and not someone else.
On top of that, you can also talk to the three bureaus and have them all freeze your credit. If you have them freeze your loan, your credit score will remain the same and cannot be affected by any of your reasonable efforts nor by anything the thief does in your name. On the flip side, freezing your credit will also keep essential things from being able to happen.
Lenders cannot access your credit to give you a loan. You will not be able to open any new bank or credit card accounts, and you will not be able to have your credit accessed to rent an apartment, etc. If you need any of these things to get the typical day to day things done, then you can get them to suspend the freeze temporarily. Once you get everything that needs to be done with your credit, the freeze can be resumed. Your credit can remain frozen until there is a thorough investigation, and the issue is entirely resolved.
Contact companies and tell them that you are a victim of identity theft
The last thing that you will need to do is get a replacement social security card in Minnesota or wherever you live. Choosing a replacement social security card in Minnesota or any other state in the United States is not an easy task to do. For this to happen, you have to go to a Social Security Administration and prove to them that your identity was stolen, or you can use an online service such as online-application.org.
You then have to prove to them that you went through harm and that you did everything you could to find out who stole your identity in the first place (which is why it is so essential to get a police report filed which can help in the long run). It is also imperative to keep in mind that your old Social Security number is still active and valid, which means that getting a new name will not just get rid of bad credit or big red flags on your credit report. That will follow you with your unique number, and you will still be responsible for fixing those things.
Do not fret too much
The truth is that having your identity stolen is a genuine issue, and it can happen to you at any time. However, this does not mean that you should live in fear and think that it will happen to you any day now and that your life will be over as soon as it happens. The truth is that you are more than likely not in immediate danger of your identity being stolen or used in any fraudulent activity. If you think that your social security number may have been compromised, but you do not believe that it was used to commit and sort of fraud – you can get on your credit reporting website and use their free credit monitoring. There are also several identity theft protection products out there that are explicitly designed to help protect your name and number instead of jumping straight to extreme measures.