Hackers recently infiltrated the computer network of Sony Pictures and posted online the Social Security numbers of Sylester Stallone, Conan O'Brien, and tens of thousands of current and former employees. We don't know if Rocky cried out, 'Adrian, Adrian, my identity has been stolen,' but it is likely that he uttered a few choice words.
While some speculated that North Korea was behind the security breach, they have denied it (but can we believe them?). The working theory on the involvment of North Korea was that the breach was in retaliation for an upcoming comedy about Kim Jon Un. An interesting side note is that in addition to the disclosure of Social Security numbers, celebrities aliases were also revealed. These are the names that an actor might use when checking in at a hotel or traveling. By the way, my alias is 'Jimmy Cash.'
When Can You Do If Your Social Security Number Is Stolen?
1. Get a new Social Security Number
While it is a little known option, if you are the victim of identity theft you can apply for a new Social Security number from the Social Security Administration. In one sense, you are starting all over again with a fresh new credit identity. Although I don't know anyone that has ever received a new Social Security number, the research I have done on this suggests that your 'old credit file' may still be associated with your name. This would, of course, require some explaining each and every time you apply for credit.
2. Freeze Your Credit
The three major credit bureaus provide a way for a consumer to put in place a security freeze. Once frozen, no one can apply for credit with your Social Security number without your authorization (and your secret pin code). Depending on what state you live in, you may have to pay a few dollars to freeze your file. If you are a bonafide victim of identity theft you will not have to pay for your credit freeze.
3. Stay On Top Of Your Credit File With A Monitoring Service
Credit monitoring is available for a monthly fee of around $15 from a number of national companies. Many consumers have been given free credit monitoring as a result of a corporate security breach (e.g. Target). Even if this does not apply to you, there is a way to monitor your credit file for free (two of the three bureaus). Credit Sesame and Credit Karma both offer free monitoring, but each service only monitors one of the bureaus. Presently there is no means to monitor an Equifax credit file for free.
4. Review Your Full Three Bureau Credit Report At Least Once Per Year
You can obtain your full three bureau credit report one time per year through Annual Credit Report.com. Additionally, if you are turned down when applying for credit, you can make additional requests at no cost. The details on this will be included in the credit denial letter you receive from the lender.
Other Issues To Be Concerned About
Most people think only about the risk to their credit file when their Social Security number has been compromised. There is another consideration that may be much more problematic than your credit file - your IRS file. One of the fastest growing areas of fraud is the theft of tax refunds. Sorry to report that there is no method in place that allows for the monitoring of your IRS file. The only way to learn that your Social Security number is being used by a tax fraudster is when you file your own return.
Helping you make the most of God's money!