Recently, one of my readers left a comment on Identity Theft: Six Steps Every Victim MUST Follow and brought up a very valid point. I would like to thank everybody for reading my blog and actually getting involved with this issue. This comment provoked some thoughts and I felt compelled to research this issue a little bit more.
Here is the thought-provoking comment left by Snahofivan:
“I noticed in your article that you recommend that people go to the Social Security office to get a new number. Actually, having worked for 10 years at Social Security, in an area with very high ID theft levels, I can definitely testify that getting a new number isn’t the answer. First of all, you can’t always get a new number. It is very difficult to meet the level of criteria required by Soc Sec to get one. Second, even if you have a new number, the old number remains yours for life. I’ve seen people get a new number, and someone has already used the new number even before it was assigned to them. They ended up with two numbers to track, and twice the risk of identity theft than they had before.
Your best bet is to clean up your credit, and do everything you can to prevent future ID theft. Once they have your information, it is out of your control. Prevent ID theft from happening to start with. Protect your information.”
Snahofivan is absolutely right-you should do everything possible to prevent Identity Theft in the first place. But if it happens and your information gets sold and used over and over again, then, perhaps requesting a new Social Security number is your best bet. It really should be your last choice. If you did everything you could to salvage your credit and clear your name, and you are still being victimized by the same crime, the Social Security Administration will indeed issue a new Social Security number to you. Will it be a “recycled” number? I am not quite sure. For that, I am going to make a call to the SSA. You will have to prove your legal status in the US, your age, identity and provide them with evidence that your information is being repeatedly misused.
The SSA will not issue a new Social Security Number for the following reasons so do not even try:
• To avoid the consequences of filing for bankruptcy;
• If you intend to avoid the law or your legal responsibility; or
• If your Social Security card is lost or stolen, but there is no evidence that someone is using your number.
Getting a new number will not solve your problem and will not guarantee a fresh start. You have built your credit history for many years. Having no credit history with the new number may pose some additional problems when buying a home, a car or simply getting a credit card. This is perhaps one of the reasons I, myself, never considered getting a new number-the credit history. I remember the times, many years ago, when I was trying to build credit: high interest rate credit cards, co-signers if you need to buy or lease a car or when you are renting an apartment. I get nervous just thinking about it. It has not been easy cleaning up my credit and reputation after it has been damaged by someone, but the alternative just does not sound too appealing.
So follow Snahofivan’s advice and protect your identity and information.