Some scams can be relatively minor, while others can have life changing consequences, including when your identity is stolen. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that 76,000 people each year are scammed by identity thieves using their social security. These crimes lead to massive damages each year. The average rate of money lost per individual is about $1,500. This number is four times higher than all other scams combined. Many people think that scams are only happening to older Amercians, but it is happening to people of all ages. This blog will help educate you on social security and its history, and most importantly how to protect your social security number from scams, identity thieves tricks to steal your social security, and how you can track your scammer.
What Is A Social Security Number And Why Do We Have One?
A social security number is a nine-digit sequence of numbers used to identify people. It helps track income and salary, which allows the government to tax you, and to earn social security benefits. Since 1936 about 420 million social security numbers have been issued. 5.5 million people receive a social security number every year. The first person to receive a social security card was John David Sweeney. But poor John died of a heart attack at the age of 61 in 1974 and never received any Social Security benefits. Back then, the government assigned an “area” number to each social security card. Area numbers were the last three digits of a social security number. The area number represents the state where you applied for a social security card. Now, area numbers are arranged randomly, starting in 2011.
If you wish to challenge the order or selection of the numbers on your social security card, you can ask for a new one. But, you must prove that your card numbers bring some offense to your culture or religion.
Most job applications require that you show proof of your social security number to apply. A social security number gives people access to get a driver's license, open a bank account, sign up for a credit card, apply for a passport, and more. Because social security cards are so powerful, some people have started making fake ones. However, it is easy to spot fake social security cards. Real social security cards do not have the middle two numbers or the last four numbers as zeros. Also, even after you pass away, the government will never reuse your number for someone else. So that won't work either for someone wanting to steal an identity.
In 1938 a wallet company, E.H. A Ferree, based in New York, inserted a fake social security card into its wallets. The social security card and number inserted belonged to Hilda Schrader Whitcher, the wallet company's secretary. Due to this, 40,000 people who bought those wallets believed that Hilda's social security number was theirs and used it for years. The secretary ended up getting a new social security number after being called in by the FBI for questioning.
How Can Your Social Security Number Be Misused?
When a scammer steals your social security number, they can take loans out, collect your tax refunds, collect benefits, income, create phone numbers, get health insurance and even buy a home, all with your information. Identity thieves can find out your social security number through purchase on the dark web, or even salvaging through your trash, looking for confidential documents. Also, someone in your home or office, that you have given your trust, could locate your social security number in your financial documents. (One important way to avoid this is explained below.) Once located, criminals will use your information themselves, or sell your personal information for other people to use.
When an identity thief opens a financial account, it can be very damaging. These thieves can get credit cards and loans in your name. However, when the thief receives the bill, they will not pay. This fraudulent act will immensely hurt your credit score and is very hard to recover from, and sometimes takes years to get it removed from your records. Also, but having your identity stolen can tarnish your medical records as well. With your social security number, thieves can receive medical treatment. This scam may not sound that bad, but whatever treatment they received will be on your medical records and bill. You could obtain the wrong health treatment and or blood type as a result of this. These thieves can drain your health insurance, again potentially taking years to correct.
Stolen social security numbers are also used by convicted sex offenders to mask their true identity. Also, if your SSN is used by a sexual offender, your “identify” could be tied to this person for years, promoting you as a sexual offender. And if your identity thief files for unemployment, it causes you to lose access to extra help and benefits that you may need later on.
One scam thieves use to get you to reveal your SSN is to hold themselves out as law enforcement and claim you have committed a crime. This lie then leads the innocent person (you) to describe why that information is false. The fake law enforcement officer will then ask you for some "personal information" to double-check everything you tell them is correct. This crime is a sly way to obtain people's personal information and SSN. Real law enforcement officers will never ask you for financial information or a SSN number over the phone.
What You Can Do To Prevent Identity Theft
Most times, people have no idea that their identity is being used by someone else. A good plan is to run your own credit report at least once a year, and see if any suspicious accounts come up. These reports will help you check and see if someone is misusing your social security number. Another trick is never trust caller I.D. Scammers have figured out ways to have their name pop up as the Social Security Administration or a law enforcement agency. The SSA will not ask for personal information over the phone. If a number calls you demanding payment for a fine, telling you they will cancel your social security number, it is fake. Ask the person for their name and position at the agency, and then call back the agency at a publicly listed number - NOT the number they give you (which will be fake). For the SSA, call 800-772-1213.
How To Help Prevent Your SSN And Confidential Information From Being Taken From Your Home Or Office
Sadly, a large percentage cases where an SSN or other confidential information is stolen are due to people we allow in our homes and offices. It is unfortunate that these people who we have allowed access to our homes and offices abuse and take advantage of this trust. Trust of course. But verify too. When it comes to your confidential information, and the safety and security of your loved ones, it is just the smart thing to do.
One great solution to check and confirm the background of the people you allow in your home and office, and to make sure they do not have a history of theft and identify crimes, are the new, advanced people search engines like www.gladiknow.com. These people search platforms are fantastic tools to locate and search anyone in the U.S. The advanced technology instantly combs through hundreds of millions of public records (both online and offline) to find a particular person and his or her background immediately. They make searching for people much more accessible than on social media sites and provide much more detailed information. They will perform a thorough search of your subject’s addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, relatives, associates, and social media, as well as criminal, employment, and education records, and more. Very importantly, the search is always 100% confidential. For more information on people search engines, how they work and how you can use them, check out this great video.
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