It is quite scary what a hacker can do with your social security number. As a small business owner, you should always keep this number protected and only give it out when absolutely necessary. There is a common phishing scam out there that happened to my stepfather recently. A person calls his cell phone and says that they are with the Social Security Agency, and they need to confirm his Social Security Number to make sure he gets his check. He was smart enough to hang up, but I am sure many elderly people have fallen for this scam.
Here are a few things a hacker can do if they get a hold of your SSN:
- Get Credit cards in your name
- If someone has your SSN along with your name and address, they can do pretty much anything that requires your SSN. This has been reported as the most common use of a stolen SSN. The best way to prevent this is to not give out your SSN unless it’s necessary and to use a credit reporting agency or credit monitoring service to be alerted if a card has been opened with your SSN.
- Claim your tax refund
- This one has happened to a close family member of mine. They went to file their taxes the following year and were alerted that someone else already filed with their SSN. Now they have to take certain precautions because their SSN was compromised. Make sure you keep your SSN number secure and don’t fall for phishing emails that ask you for personal information including your SSN.
- Get a driver’s license in your name
- All you need to get a driver’s license is your Social Security card and name and address. Once someone has a driver’s license in your name, it seems they can do a lot of other fraudulent things with your information. If you think someone has obtained a driver’s license with your SSN, contact the local Department of Motor Vehicles right away.
- Open a bank account
- This one seems a little weird. So what if a criminal can open a bank account with your SSN since they will have to use their own money? The problem is it could be used for illegal transactions and now that is tied your SSN. If you think your SSN was stolen, call all three of the credit reporting agencies and ask them to flag your account for fraud.
- Launch spam attacks
- One of the main reasons hackers steal your information isn’t to do the things listed above, it is to sell your information to other hackers on the dark web. They can make a lot of money this way. Always protect your SSN and try to give other methods of identification if possible.
This article isn’t mean to scare you, but to make you aware of the vulnerabilities that exist so you can prevent you and your company from being a target. Make sure you are checking your credit score regularly, using a credit monitoring service and as soon as you see anything suspicious, reach out to the correct departments to report fraud.