What Can An ID Thief Do With My Social Security Number?

Image courtesy of frankieleon

When I was working at the library in college, every student had to tell me his/her student ID number to check out a book, and with very few exceptions that number was also the student’s Social Security number. Oh boy, the profitable things I could have done if I’d been enterprisingly evil.

Social Security data is in the news a lot lately after potentially millions of SSNs were stolen in the recent Anthem insurance data breach, and the former governor of Florida released e-mails containing folks personal information, including their Socials.

This story on Credit.com runs down the most significant ways in which an ID thief can ruin your life with just those 9 digits that you will put on countless documents and forms before you even get to the point of claiming Social Security benefits… which an ID thief can steal if they have access to your SSN.

1. Ruin Your Credit

Having someone’s SSN is often the key to successfully applying for credit or loans in that person’s name. Of course, an ID thief is probably not borrowing your identity so that he or she can live a financially responsible existence under a different name. More likely, that thief intends to max out every line of credit or take out loans with no intention of repaying a dime.

And where does all this bad credit end up? On your credit report because it’s all tied to your SSN.

2. Steal Your Tax Refund

There’s a reason Ohio has started requiring that some taxpayers take a “quiz” on personal information before they get their refunds — because every year billions of dollars in tax refunds are being claimed by ID thieves who hijack legitimate taxpayers’ Social Security numbers.

3. Give You A Criminal Record

When I was a kid, a friend of the family was almost arrested because he had several outstanding warrants in his name. Except he didn’t do anything; it was his lookalike brother who never carried photo and used his sibling’s name and SSN every time he got into a jam.

And if one or more ID thieves are out there running up traffic tickets or minor charges all over the place in your name, it can take years to prove to the various law enforcement agencies that you’re not the one they’re looking for.

[via credit.com]