Hackers Are People Too: How Hackers Are Using Your Stolen SSN
If your company collects data as a part of digital marketing, cyber security is imperative. Read this guide to discover how hackers are using stolen SSNs.
Keyword(s): stolen SSN
Identity theft is a global problem; even children are becoming victims of this crime. Their social security number is as powerful as an adult's. If it falls to the wrong people, it can be a gateway for people to do fraudulent activities under someone else's name.
This is why hackers target this information along with a person's other details, such as name and birth date. However, have you ever wondered what they can do with such information? How do they do crimes with your stolen SSN and a stolen identity?
As it turns out, a stolen SSN can bring a lot of damage to the victim. Read on to find out how hackers use your SSN for their benefit.
1. Steal Your Tax Returns
Hackers can steal money from you by receiving your tax refund on your behalf. If they have your name, date of birth, and your SSN, they can file a tax return on the IRS. The IRS will then send the refund check to the thief.
Of course, this won't push through if you already filed for the tax refund. Otherwise, though, the check is for the taking of the identity thief. This means that those who wait until the last moment are more vulnerable to such fraudulent activity.
The good news is that the IRS is good at stopping or recovering the fraud. In 2013 alone, the IRS received over 5 million tax return filings from stolen identities. This sums up to about $30 billion worth of refunds.
The IRS was able to stop or recover 81% of the claims, which amounts to $24 billion.
2. Open Lines of Credit and Apply for Loans
Identity thieves can use your SSN and other information like name and date of birth to apply for a loan in your name. Of course, this comes with the intent to never pay it back. As a result, your credit score will fall, leaving you with the debt and poor credit.
They can also open credit cards, which they will use to rack up debt. Banks may not be able to tell the signs of identity theft right away. This means that the thief can rack up thousands of dollars of debt before the bank can freeze the account.
If you make a habit of checking your credit report a few times a year, you'll be able to spot if there are loans and other lines of credit you didn't remember opening.
3. Receive Your Insurance Benefits
Did you know that other people can receive treatment under your name? They'll be the ones to receive your insurance benefits, including prescriptions.
This isn't only an added expense, it can also be a dangerous thing. When the thief's health information mixes with yours, you may not be able to receive the best type of treatment for you.
Be sure to review your medical bills and insurance statements with thorough care. Check for signs of identity theft, such as a listed medical care you didn't receive. You should also check your credit report often for unpaid medical bills.
If you see a discrepancy, report it to your health insurance provider and to the medical facility.
4. Open Utility Accounts
Paying for your utility bills is a pain, but more so if you're paying for bills you didn't know existed. This is possible if people steal your identity; they can open new accounts with the electric, gas, phone, or other utility companies they don't intend to pay. They'll use your SSN, which means the accounts will be under your name.
Utilities usually remain open even when it's past the due date. Unpaid bills also don't show up on your credit report until the utility companies have turned them over to collections. When that happens, your credit score will plunge.
That's the only time you will learn about the identity theft. By then, the identity thief is long gone and may be using another person's name for utilities again.
If this happens to you, contact the utility company and ask to speak to the fraud department. Most will have a system in place to deal with identity theft issues.
5. Apply for a Job or Rent a House
These issues stem from the identity thief having poor credit. Often, they can't rent a house or get a job because of it. They may also have criminal records, which is why they may need another person's name to do these tasks.
If someone is renting under your name, you won't know about it as long as the thief pays rent. Sometimes, the intent isn't malicious - it's only to be able to rent a house. Once the landlord evicts him/her, though, this will affect your credit score.
Another person applying for a job under your name may also not be malicious. However, this can hurt your tax status. The IRS might come after you for failing to report an income you didn't get.
6. Hold the Stolen SSN for Ransom
Sometimes, a hacker may not have interest in doing the things above. There are even times when they may steal your SSN only to prove they can do it. However, they can also opt to keep the information to get a ransom.
Hackers usually target corporations and institutions holding invaluable data about their customers. Hospitals are especially great targets since they hold their customers' name, birth date, and SSN.
The hackers gain access to the company's database, encrypt the data or move it to a secured location, and then restrict their access. In exchange for access to the data, companies will pay thousands of dollars to the hackers, who will then vanish without a trace.
This business model is how hackers make money off your SSN and other information. Even corporations with several layers of security are vulnerable to this type of cyber-attack. After all, hackers may only need one small hole to penetrate the system.
Secure Your Customers' Information
With the huge amount of stolen SSN cases, companies need to remain vigilant.
They must employ the latest security technologies to keep their customers' information safe from hackers. If you want to learn more about a safe and secure IT network, contact us now.