Understanding the notification and next steps
Most people consider their Social Security number (SSN) an important piece of information. So if you get an “SSN activity” alert, you might be worried.
The good news is that in most cases the activity isn’t cause for alarm and is the result of an action you’ve taken. For example, if you’ve recently moved or changed your name, you’ll get an SSN activity alert.
But if you don’t recognize the activity in the alert, you may need to take steps to protect your identity, your credit score, and your financial well-being.
Let’s review what you need to know.
What is an SSN activity alert?
We’re always scanning your data to help keep you safe. An SSN activity alert happens when your name or address, and any changes to either, shows up on your credit report.
Here’s how this alert works:
- You change your name or address.
- You notify your lenders about this change.
- The lenders report this information to the credit bureaus.
- The credit bureaus update the information in your report, which automatically links to your SSN.
- We notify you of the activity and ask that you review the information to confirm it’s accurate.
What should I do if I get an alert?
If you get an SSN activity alert from us, you’ll need to check to make sure the activity is yours.
- If you recognize the activity, you don’t need to do anything.
- If you don’t recognize it, it could be a sign that someone is using your identity. Make sure to follow the steps in the alert to help protect yourself against fraud.
Fortunately, in most cases you should recognize the activity in the SSN alert. Typically, the alert is triggered by an action you’ve taken, like when you change your name or move to a new address.
However, this alert can also occur when a lender misspells your name on an application, so you’ll want to check the information.
What if I suspect fraud?
If the alert contains a name or address change you don't recognize, it could mean that someone is using your identity to commit fraud. If you suspect fraud, you should:
- Contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to report the problem.
- Consider putting a freeze on your credit report with the three major bureaus as an additional precaution.
- Review your credit report to make sure everything looks right.
- Continue to check your credit report and ID monitoring alerts for any new activity and changes.
Taking action as soon as possible can help stop criminals from using your SSN for activity you haven't authorized, like applying for a mortgage or filing for a tax refund in your name.
How can I protect myself?
You can help prevent your SSN from falling into the wrong hands by taking a few simple steps:
- Avoid sharing your SSN with anyone unless it’s absolutely necessary, like when you’re applying for a mortgage.
- Keep your Social Security card in a safe place; it’s best not to carry it in your wallet.
- Beware of phone and email scams asking for your SSN, and don’t give it out to anyone you don’t know.
- Don’t use your SSN or any part of it as a password or PIN.
- Shred any documents containing your SSN.
- Avoid giving your SSN out via email or leaving it on a voicemail.
- An SSN activity alert means we found a name or address linked to your SSN on your credit report.
- Usually you’ll recognize the information we found. That means the alert is nothing to worry about, and you don’t need to do anything.
- Sometimes an alert may contain a name or address you don't recognize. If that's the case, it could mean that someone else is attempting to use your identity.
- If an alert contains unfamiliar information, you might need to put a freeze on your credit report, contact the companies where the fraud occurred and alert the Social Security Administration.
- You can protect your SSN by keeping your card in a safe place, not giving your number out unless it’s necessary and avoid sending it via email.