By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager
There is no sense of dread quite like realizing your Social Security number has been compromised, but there are steps you can take to decrease the chance of this happening.
“If an entity or an organization doesn't need the number to perform whatever services you need to be done, then it's probably something that you don't want to give out,” said Brandon Smith, Social Security Administration public affairs specialist in Cleveland.
“When someone uses your social security number to obtain a job or credit or loans or other goods and services, the agency that handles that is the Federal Trade Commission,” Smith said. “We would encourage people to contact them at identitytheft.gov.”
Smith and Robert Fenn, Social Security Administration public affairs specialist in Akron, joined the State of Business podcast to discuss ways to avoid Social Security fraud and what you should do if it happens to you.
“If an individual feels their Social Security number has been compromised or used incorrectly, normally it's going to be related to credit,” said Fenn. “We encourage individuals to make sure they follow up with Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and you can do something such as freezing an account and then unthawing it at a later stage.”
Smith said there is most likely no reason to carry a physical Social Security card around, instead, he suggests keeping it in a safe place with other important documents.
It’s also wise to create an account at socialsecurity.gov/myaccount, Smith said, as that prevents someone creating an account in your name and has an option to request a replacement card if needed.
Fenn said there might be a fear of contacting the Social Security office for more information on Social Security questions but it’s important to understand the documentation needed to ensure when the time comes, you are receiving the correct payment.
“Have your ducks in a row,” Fenn said. “So that way, we can make sure that you receive that payment on time.”