Does this simple method work to find out if your Social Security number has been stolen? Internet ScamBusters #204
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
Today we’re doing another subscriber Q&A issue. Many
subscribers asked the first question about how to tell if your
Social Security number is being used by someone else — be
sure to check out the answer (it may well surprise you):
- Can’t you simply review Your Social Security Statement to
find out if your Social Security number has been stolen?
- Is this another Internet dating scam?
- Was the call I just received a phishing scam by phone?
As always, we first recommend you check out the most popular
articles from our other sites during the past week:
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Biometrics and Identity Theft: Find out the real scoop on Biometrics and identity theft — and whether or not Biometrics really can help solve the problems associated with identity theft.
You Can Save Money with Online Rebate Websites:
Find out how online rebate websites can help savvy consumers save money.
Saving Money with Buy-One-Get-One Sales: Tips for saving more money with Buy-One-Get-One Sales at your favorite grocery store.
Let’s get going with today’s subscriber Q&A…
Internet ScamBusters Q&A
Question: Thank you for your information regarding identity
theft. As a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, I often send
some of my clients to the Employment Commission in my state to
obtain a statement of wages and earnings that shows by their
Social Security number what jobs they have held and where they
Isn’t it possible to approach the Social Security Administration
and obtain a complete report of all wages and earnings by
using your Social Security number? I would think this should
show any and all activity reported under a specific number.
Thanks for keeping us updated and aware.
Answer: After our Special Issue #200 called “Startling Facts
About Identity Theft,” we had hundreds of subscribers who
offered similar advice:
You can find this special identity theft ScamBusters issue here.
Many subscribers used our feedback form to let us know that
they believed there is a very simple way to know whether or
not your Social Security number is being used by someone else:
“Check your Social Security Statement.”
Your Social Security Statement is a “personal record of the
earnings on which you have paid Social Security taxes during
your working years and a summary of the estimated benefits you
and your family may receive as a result of those earnings.”
You can request a copy here by clicking on the “Need to request a Statement?” link.
Subscribers suggested that you could simply compare what you
know your earnings to be with what is recorded on your Social
Then, they argued, if there are more earnings recorded on your
Social Security Statement than what you know you earned, it is
likely that someone else is using your Social Security number.
Although this is very logical, it is NOT a surefire way to
know if someone else is using your Social Security number.
We called the Social Security Administration, and this is what we learned:
According to the Social Security Administration, your Social Security Statement does NOT
necessarily contain any information that would lead you to
know that your Social Security number had been stolen.
It MAY include their earnings if someone is using your Social
Security number. However, someone may well be using your
Social Security number and those earning may well NOT be
reflected on your Social Security Statement.
For example, if the Social Security Administration gets reports from a variety of
employers with employees who use your Social Security number,
these will likely not be included on your Social Security
So, although this method of finding out whether your Social
Security number has been stolen seems logical, it is
definitely not a definitive way to know if your Social
Security number has been compromised.
You can find out more on the Social Security Administration website.
One additional note: We often get asked if we can give more
info on related topics for other countries. Here is what a
subscriber wrote about the policies of printing the equivalent
of Social Security numbers on checks in Israel:
“The system in Israel has nearly all personal income (wages -
pension, etc.) directly deposited into a bank account. The
individual’s name and National insurance number [SSN] is
printed on all personal checks, so it is never a secret.
“I tried to explain that I do NOT wish to advertise my
National insurance number publicly when ordering additional
checks at the bank, but was told outright, ‘That’s the law!’
So it is a problem in Israel. The same problem might be
experienced in some European countries.”
Question: I think I already know this is a scam, but I’m doing
a follow-up. I met this girl named [name deleted] on one of
the Internet dating sites.
She says she is from New Castle, England & her father plus kid
sister were killed in a car accident. On top of that, she
told me her mother is sick with a bad heart.
She went to Nigeria to find an antique because she told me she
runs her own business.
I’ve already sent her over $1000 through Western Union &
probably more. She has even sent me pics of the accident. I’m
still unsure if she is legit.
I’m still in contact with her, but she tells me she needs
money for a new cable for her modem. Plus she said something
about a refund from the antique that I think I might have to
take care of, but this is all very sketchy & my gut tells me
to ask for advice before I go any further with her if that is
the case. Hope you can help.
Answer: We’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this is
a classic Internet dating scam. This “woman” may even be a man.
Although the details and the reasons vary, these dating scams
all involve hard luck stories and asking for money. The
scammer continues with more and more requests for money until
the victim stops sending money. Then, contact stops and the
scammer goes after the next victim.
You can read more about online dating scams like this here.
Question: Pretty sure I just got phished by phone. The guy
said he was calling from Verizon, which had just merged with
MCI (my service), and I had to set up a new package.
I asked if he could send me paperwork, and he said it had to
be done by tomorrow. Loud bells went off in my head, and I
hung up on him. Thanks to you folks for keeping me alert to
Answer: You are correct. Phishing is happening more and more
by phone. Glad to hear you didn’t get taken!
That’s all for today — we’ll see you next week.