Social Security Q&A: How to protect against identity theft

If you are the victim of identity theft, you should report it right away. To report identity theft, fraud, or misuse of your Social Security number, the Federal Trade Commission (the nation’s consumer protection agency) recommends you:

Place a fraud alert on your credit file by contacting one of the following companies (the company you contact is required to contact the other two, which will then place alerts on your reports):

Equifax, (800) 525-6285; TransUnion, (800) 680-7289; or Experian, (888) 397-3742.

Review your credit report for inquiries from companies you have not contacted, accounts you did not open, and debts on your accounts you cannot explain;

Close any accounts you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently;

File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place; and

File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 438-4338, or TTY at (866) 653-4261.

Q: Can I conduct my Social Security business online in the event of a hurricane or other disaster that keeps me from visiting an office?

A: Yes, you can conduct most of your business with Social Security online at, where you’ll find a wealth of information and services. For example, you can create or access your own My Social Security Account, apply online for Social Security benefits or Medicare, and check the status of your pending application. If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits, you can change your address, phone number or your direct deposit information, get a replacement Medicare card, or get an instant proof of income letter. You also can get your Social Security Statement online. Your statement lets you check and verify your earnings record and see estimates of your future benefits. You also can find out if your local office is open online at That site lists any office closings and delays.

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