Someone with your Social Security Number (SSN) may be able to access your bank account in certain circumstances, but they would have difficulty with just your SSN alone.
Fortunately, you can take several steps to protect yourself from identity fraud and protect your bank account.
What is your Social Security Number?
Your Social Security number is a critical piece of important information about you. It is a nine-digit number that helps the U.S. Social Security Administration identify you and track your earnings your earnings. With your SSN tied to your earnings, you can earn Social Security income in your retirement years.
If someone has your Social Security number, they can potentially use it to pretend that they are you. That can help them access your bank account in some cases. Fortunately, thieves typically would also need other information about you to access your bank account – your Social Security number alone is usually not enough.
How Thieves can Access Your Bank Account
Your Social Security number is a very important piece of information that can help a bank identify you.
If a thief has your Social Security number, but doesn’t know where you have a bank account, they will not learn about your bank account with just the number. They must have other information
A bank will likely ask additional security questions that are designed as a personal test before it provides access to your checking, savings or investing accounts. In person, a bank may also accept a physical Social Security card, passport or Real ID in addition to your Social Security number.
Someone might also try to use your Social Security number to open new financial accounts. They may have some success getting a credit card or loans under your name with your ssn. But they would need more personal information such as your birthday and address.
It’s important to protect your bank accounts against identity theft. If a thief opens a new loan or credit card then fails to make the payments, your credit score and credit history will suffer.
Block Access to Your Bank Account with your Social Security Number
If you think someone is using your Social Security number to access your bank account, you can take several actions to try to stop them and repair any damage.
First, you can contact your bank to put a freeze on your account or discuss your options. That can prevent someone from making withdrawals.
Then, report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov if you believe someone is using your Social Security Number to pretend they are you – whether they are filing taxes, trying to get a loan or trying to access your bank account. Or you can call 1-877-IDTHEFT.
The Federal Trade Commission can help you develop a recovery plan to get your identity back under only your control.
You can also file a local police report in the community where someone tried to access your bank account.
If taxes are involved in an identity theft, you can contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Thieves can use your Social Security number to file a tax return so they can get your refund, or they may use it when they get a job to avoid paying taxes or claim unemployment benefits.
Finally, if someone tried to fraudulently access your bank account online, you can report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov. The IC3 is a partnership between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. It sends the complaint to regulatory agencies and/or law enforcement.
Monitor your credit regularly to check for signs of fraud. You can access your credit report from Experian, TransUnion or Equifax, or request your free annual report with AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can access your credit report for free weekly.
Is my Social Security number linked a bank account?
Your Social Security number, on its own, is not tied to any particular bank account unless you are enrolled in direct deposits for your Social Security income.
You can see what earnings are posted to your record on your Social Security Statement. To access your Statement, go to https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/and create an account.