Opinion: my student daughter gave part of her social security number to a scammer – what should she do right now?


Dear Mrs. MoneyPeace:

My 20 year old daughter received a scam call in which the person on the other end of the phone claimed to be from the Social Security Administration. She was asked to confirm her social security number by giving the last four digits, which she did. She had just woken up and her brain was not yet at full capacity.

My daughter immediately realized her mistake and called me in a panic. She contacted her bank and added a phone password to her account. The bank also placed an alert on his account.

What other steps should she take?

Sincerely, Carrie with a failed credit student

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Dear Carrie: What a sad wake-up call for your daughter – and a great learning opportunity for everyone else to be careful with phone calls!

I commend your daughter for immediately alerting the bank, but there is still a long way to go. With its worldwide social security number – even the last four digits – it’s an open door to fraud. Now is the time to start managing and understanding your credit information.

Anytime personal data has been stolen, you can be affected for life. This problem will not go away. Why? Because your name, date of birth, and social security number don’t change. This information will be available to hackers. As the Equifax breach in 2017 demonstrates, every business and every person is at risk.

While most students don’t have a lot of income, there are student loans, credit cards, and apartment leases that can reflect a credit history. Your daughter should maintain her diligence in the future, as we all should. Financial predators often keep a low profile and use the information later. Or sell it on the dark web.

I recommend her Freeze their credit reports, which means that no one – no person or institution – can request their financial credit information from credit reporting agencies. This will prevent anyone from opening new bank accounts or taking out loans or credits unless the information is disclosed by them. If she doesn’t need credit, it’s a general way to protect her personal information.

When she applies for credit – buying a car or applying for a loan, for example – she will need to temporarily lift or permanently remove her security freeze to allow for a credit check. Reversing a freeze is as easy as using a PIN code.

Security freezes should be placed on your credit reports separately at each national credit bureau – Equifax, Experiential, TransUnion. Placing, lifting and removing a safety gel is free.

Other than your daughter, here’s what everyone needs to do:

The first step: Check credit reports at least once a year. Credit reports are not your credit score. This report contains all of your historical credit information on which your credit score is based. Go to This site for free credit reports.

  • Get a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus.

  • Examine each credit report.

  • Notify the credit bureaus if anything is wrong. (You would be surprised to know that information can be exchanged due to similar names or data error.)

Second step : Freeze your credit reports. This same site will guide you and your daughter to freeze the credit on your information.

Make sure you do this for all three credit bureaus. (Equifax, Experiential, TransUnion.)

Other options

Credit report lockout or credit lockout: The result is similar to a credit freeze. Credit Report Locks are compatible with mobile apps and allow you to lock and unlock your credit reports using identity verification techniques such as usernames, passwords, and technology tactile or facial identification. You must lock your credit reports separately in each national credit bureau.

A credit report lock usually prevents access to your credit reports to open new credit accounts. If you want to apply for credit, you must unlock your credit report to enable a credit check.

Fraud alert: This is a notice placed on your credit reports that alerts credit card companies and others who might give you credit that you may have been the victim of fraud, including identity theft. Think of it as a “red flag” forcing businesses to take steps to verify your identity before granting credit on your behalf.

While each agency is responsible for contacting the other two with a fraud alert, manage your own credit information by contacting each to be sure. You can contact any of the three national credit bureaus to request a fraud alert.

Credit monitoring: Pay for credit monitoring – which lets you know if there has been an application for credit on your behalf – helps prevent fraud. However, you are paying for this convenience. The $ 20 per month can be over $ 240 per year for something you can do on your own.

With credit blocks, fraud alerts, and freezes, there are exceptions for who can still access your credit information, such as government agencies and businesses you currently have a relationship with.


  • No one over 18 is too young or too old to take these steps.

  • Your credit report is different from your credit score.

  • You must remain vigilant against phone calls, emails and illegal mailings.

  • Call or login now. Your information is too valuable to wait.

CD Moriarty is a Certified Financial Planner, MarketWatch Columnist and Personal Finance Speaker. She blogs on MoneyPeace.

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