Scammers are trying to steal your identity, starting with your Social Security Number

The Social Security number is closely connected to a person’s identity. Because of this government-assigned nine-digit number, people can attain jobs, collect government benefits, and it can help others identify an individual and record their earnings.

But this number can easily fall into the hands of the wrong people. Social Security numbers are stolen in a variety of ways including data breaches, people sifting through trash that has the number on them, or via the dark web where it's to the highest bidder.

Social Security Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America, topping the list of consumer fraud reports filed with the FTC and other enforcement agencies. Scammers are constantly looking for new ways to get people to give up their social security numbers so they can take advantage.

Sometimes all it takes is a phone call.

The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General warned consumers that scammers may impersonate Social Security Administration employees by using tactics that “spoof” legitimate names and phone numbers. Scammers may even send official-looking letters or reports by U.S. mail, email, text, or social media message to convince consumers of their legitimacy, with official letterhead and government jargon that may contain misspellings and typos.

The Social Security Administration rarely issues new numbers, so should the number end up in the wrong hands, it can do a lot of damage. Someone can fraudulently open a bank account, get medical care, file a fraudulent tax refund, steal government benefits, rent an apartment, or even commit a crime that links back to the individual whose social security number was stolen.

How scammers try to steal your Social Security Number

It’s rare that the Social Security Administration will call you, but when they do, usually one of the following scenarios is at play: you recently applied for a Social Security benefit; you are already receiving payments and need to update your record, or you requested a phone call from the agency. Otherwise, there is no other reason the agency would call you. 

According to the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, if you receive a call, text, email, letter, or message on social media that does any of the following, it’s a scam:

  • A threatto suspend your Social Security number, even if they have part or all of your number
  • Warning ofarrest or legal action
  • DemandingOR requesting immediate payment
  • Requiring a payment by gift card, prepaid debit card, internet currency, or a mailed cash payment.
  • Pressuring for personal information
  • Requesting secrecy
  • Threatening to seize your bank account
  • Promising to increase your Social Security benefit.
  • Trying to gain your trust by providing fake documentation, false evidence, or the name of a real government official

Was your identity stolen? Here is what you need to do

Identity theft can happen to anyone. And if you've been scammed into giving your information, here is what the Social Security Administration recommends you do:

Your social security number is critical, and often the target of scammers.
  • Report the scam online to the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General
  • Immediately stop talking to the scammer and do not respond to their messages
  • Add a fraud alert to your credit report and notify the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Transunion). It may also be best to just freeze your credit.
  • If your identity was stolen, visit to report the incident and start a recovery plan.
  • To find out if someone is using your SSN, annually check your credit reports. And if someone is using your number, file a police report in your local jurisdiction, review your earnings on your Social Security Statement and report inconsistencies to the Social Security Administration. Also contact the Internal Revenue Service if someone is using your SSN to work, get your refund, or commit other abuses involving taxes.