It is imperative to contact Social Security as soon as possible if you notice any questionable credit card activity or if you have other reason to believe your identify may have been stolen. You should also contact Social Security if you have lost a purse or wallet containing personal identification which could be used to steal your identity.
How to know if your Social Security number has been stolen
The first indication that your identity has been stolen may be when you receive a notice from the IRS which states that more than one income tax return was filed for you. This scam has become extremely common in Florida, and is spreading nationwide.
Alternately, an IRS letter may indicate that you received additional wages from an employer unknown to you. From the IRS standpoint, this looks as though you did not report all your earned income.
If you notice a discrepancy in the earnings recorded on your annual Social Security Statement (Form SSA-7005), it may indicate that someone else is using your Social Security number for work purposes. You can ask for a Social Security Statement at any time by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. For TTY users, call 1-800-325-0778.
How to replace your Social Security card
You will need proof of your identity. A copy of a valid federal- or state-issued piece of photo identification, such as a driver’s license, will suffice. If you are a new U.S. citizen or resident alien, you will also need proof of your citizenship or residency status. All photocopies must be notarized. Do not send original documents in the mail.
You will also need to fill out the Application for a Social Security Card. Detailed information about the form and necessary identification are included along with the form.
When you have everything together, submit the form and documents at your nearest Social Security office. You can do this in person or mail in the form and documents.
Replacing your Social Security number
As a last resort, Social Security may assign you a new Social Security number, but only if there is solid evidence that someone else is using your number. It is not enough just to have lost your card. Bear in mind that even if you change your Social Security number, third parties can still cross-reference the new SSN with the old number.
This is a life-altering step. Once you have a new number, you will have to update every employer, bank, and agency that keeps records under your old number. The new number will have the effect of “losing” all your useful employment records without giving you a fresh start. It may also make it extremely difficult to access your previous credit history, which can cause other problems when you are trying to obtain credit.
If you are still determined to take this step, you will need to prove your age, identity, and citizenship or legal residency status in person, just as if you were applying for a Social Security number for the first time. You will also need to demonstrate that the misuse of your existing number is still causing difficulty that can be resolved in no other way.
Informing the IRS
You should also submit Form 14039 (IRS Identity Theft Affidavit) to the Internal Revenue Service, along with the police report, if applicable. Upon receiving and processing the form, the IRS will mark your account to identify any questionable activity. You can fax this document to the IRS at (978) 247-9967, or mail them to:
Internal Revenue Service
PO Box 9039
If you identify fraudulent activity involving your Social Security number
File a complaint with your local police. Also file a second complaint with the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center, and a third complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Close all accounts you believe to have been tampered with, and place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Detailed information on this step-by-step process is available here.