Scammers Can Steal Your Identity Without Your SSN # — Here’s How
(USNewsMag.com) – Identity theft is a major concern, affecting millions of people each year, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In 2021, there were almost 1.4 million reports of stolen identities, about the same number as the year prior, but a 100% increase from 2019. As it’s a growing problem, it’s understandable that many people are taking extra steps to protect sensitive information. But that begs the question: can someone steal your identity if they don’t have your social security number?
The short answer is it’s not impossible, but it’s very difficult for someone to steal your identity without knowing your social security number. However, they can still pretend to be you without knowing this information by forging documents. The key is to protect sensitive information.
Credit Card Information
Over the years, with the technology boom and COVID-19 pandemic, more people have turned to online shopping as the norm. They order groceries and takeout, shop for household items and even use their credit cards for subscription services. The problem with this is it involves handing over sensitive information — a credit or debit card, for example — and not knowing if the information is completely protected.
Cybercrime is a real threat to not just Americans, but people worldwide. Breaches put sensitive information, including credit card numbers, into the hands of bad actors who care nothing about destroying someone’s hard-earned credit or reputation. When credit card information falls into the wrong hands, it can lead to identity theft. The best way to safeguard against this is to only use credit cards on secure sites — they have a lock icon in the web browser — and avoid shopping on any new or suspect sites.
Fighting Identity Theft
The best way to fight identity theft is to stay on top of all reports. This includes not just your credit report, but also medical, bank and credit card statements. You might wonder what your medical statement has to do with identity theft, but it’s not unusual for criminals to target medical insurance to receive treatment. This can cause a whopper of a headache because not only will you have to dispute insurance payments, especially if you have a yearly deductible or coverage limit, but you’ll also have to sort out your medical history from a bad actor’s.
At the first indication that anything is wrong, contact the proper agency, whether it’s your credit card company, insurance agent or local bank. The sooner you notice the errors, the sooner you can mitigate damage. Fight all newly-opened accounts on your credit report and dispute any transactions that aren’t yours.
Instead of tossing mail, especially credit card offers or statements of any kind, directly in the trash, shred it with a cross-shredder first. Never carry your social security card in your wallet, and store all sensitive information in a place only you can access.
Only by taking precautions can you truly avoid identity theft, but if you do become a victim, just know you’re not alone. Authorities can help resolve damages and potentially catch the criminal before they have the chance to do it to someone else.
People who suspect they’ve been victims of identity theft should report it to the FTC online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.
Copyright 2022, USNewsMag.com