What do I do after someone uses my SSN for himself?
November 5, 2010 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Someone in another state used my SSN to open credit in his name (not my name or address). Then this guy skipped out on the bills. Now the bank has tried to garnish my wages at my job by via my SSN. My job told the bank to get lost, basically, since I'm not the guy in question. Still, there's this matter of my SSN being used by this guy. I've checked my credit reports and there's nothing there that shouldn't be and I've placed fraud alerts with the three credit reporting agencies. What should I do next?

Here's the long version: two days ago my job's HR department alerted me that they'd received a request to garnish my wages from Large Credit Card-Issuing Bank. The writ had my SSN, but not my name and address on it. It's not my debt. The HR department responded to the bank with a letter explaining that I'm not the guy they're looking for, my SSN shouldn't be there, and that we won't be doing any garnishing. Moreover, they told the bank to take my SSN off of this guy's file. HR sent me copies of the writ and HR's reply. I have the guy's name and address (assuming it's correct, too).

I checked my credit reports and they're all accurate. No unexpected accounts or attempts at unexpected accounts. I placed a fraud alert with all three monitoring agencies. Now I'm not sure what else to do.

As an aside, I've been receiving phone calls from zombie debt collectors for months at my home number looking for people who are not me or, in one case, a guy with the same name as me except for a different middle name, birthday, and SSN. I keep telling these collectors that I'm not the guy they want, but they keep calling. Most of the time it's automated messages that follow-up with no way to get off of their database. I'd assumed these were just zombie robo calls, but now I'm wondering if this is all connected somehow.

I should note that I'm not missing any money, have received no unusual bills, and have not experienced unexpected charges to my credit cards. Everything on my end of things seems to be normal.
So where do I go from here? If someone is using my SSN or other information for nefarious things, I obviously want to shut him down. What else can I do?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (6 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Call the police non-emergency line and file a police report. Call your bank and credit cards and ask if they have identity theft assistance. Google 'identity theft'. That should cover pretty much all of your questions.

DO NOT SKIP STEP 1. It's not to catch someone, it's your proof for the next 10-15 years that your identity was stolen. You need it.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:53 PM on November 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

Dave Ramsey covers this all the time - might be some articles at www.daveramsey.com. He also touts an ID theft service very heavily - not sure of the value of that or if they're the best option in that field. But the advice as to what is going to happen is pretty sound. Agreed that police report is step 1. Because you are ABSOLUTELY NOT RESPONSIBLE, and cannot be made responsible, for whatever debts are incurred, but that doesn't alter the fact that you will have to respond to bill collectors who will have to find this out from you. Again and again.

Notifying the credit agencies is a good first step, but you should monitor them carefully for new information, challenging anything that's not really yours. The risk is that the bad guy will not pay his bills and then your credit rating will go down. Then when YOU need a loan, you're not approved.

There's a way of freezing your credit bureau file that tends to minimize the ability for the bad guy to use your SSN (which amounts to using your credit rating), but it has the effect of making you go through more hoops when YOU want them to check your credit scores to approve you, so be aware of that.

You will not see checking account debits or unauthorized charges on your (real) CCs, because the guy has not (so far) gained access to your accounts and may not even know anything about you. And there's no reason to believe he will gain access to your accounts (to spoof the banks he would have to know a lot more than just your SSN).

And this is why we shouldn't use a gov't issued ID # as proof that we are who we say we are, but there's no changing that for now, apparently.
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:04 PM on November 5, 2010

SSA has a page about this including on how to change your SSN. You should also call them after filing the police report.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:33 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

After you have the police report, report it to the FTC. They track down serial ID theft offenders. Their website is a good resource.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:37 PM on November 5, 2010

First - they cannot garnish your wages without a judgement and they're unlikely to obtain one since it would be relatively easy for you to prove your residence at the time the charges were made. A default judgment would show up one your credit report so, depending on the time frame, it's unlikely one has been entered against you.

Second - it's illegal for them to discuss your debt with a third party.

I'd post your question on FICO forums - the people over there are extremely knowledgeable.
posted by Siena at 3:09 PM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Having had this happen to me 11 years ago, it's the Gift That Keeps On Giving. Two days ago Capital One called me and tried to demand $16,000 out of me from that era. They shut up VERY fast when I told them I had a POLICE REPORT on file about this fraud, and that I would be happy to fax it to them. This also happened in 2008 with CitiCard, with the same result.
So yes with the "file a police report" and then get a copy, scan it, keep multiple copies so you can fax it as needed. And yes with everything else being said. Documentation is your friend and will shut down the collection agencies faster than anything.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:07 PM on November 5, 2010

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