August 31, 2009

My social security number is in the wrong hands, what do I do?

Posted: 06:00 AM ET

From HLN's Money Expert Clark Howard


My lawyer accidently gave my social security number to a family member I cannot trust. This person also knows my birth date, address, employer etc. What is the best plan to "cover all my bases" and be sure that this information isn’t used to open new credit cards or loans without my knowledge? Thanks


Ryan, if I ever knew somebody who was made-to-order for doing a credit freeze, you are the one.

With a credit freeze, all this information in the hands of your relative does them no good to open accounts in your name.

What you do is, you put in to place a freeze with Equifax, Transunion and Experian and once you have those freezes in place, and depending on the state and your situation, it's from zero dollars to ten dollars to put a credit freeze in place.

Once you put those in place you don't have to worry anymore, because each bureau assigns you a secret code that's even different for each bureau.

So if this relative you don't trust goes to open a new credit card or whatever, and they don't know your secret code they're shut down cold.


Filed under: Clark Howard • Credit • Living

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Eddie   September 1st, 2009 3:08 pm ET

I am not sure who else I can talk to my wife received a very distressing phone call yesterday. The man had a very thick Indian accent. He first left two messages which I have on recording. They were telling her to have our lawyer contact them because of her defaulting on some kind of a payday loan in the amount of 2,586.00. He told her in the mesage that she had better not deisregard this message or else she would be in serious trouble as the situation unfolds on her. I am not sure if they are a legitimate business or lawfirm. However, judging from what I have experienced, he stated several flaws in his intentions to collect this so called debt. He did give her his name as Spencer Reese. He said that he is with F.A.A. Lawfirm and they were suing her for defrauding a payday loan. They had also said that if she did not come to court that Federal Agents from California. We live in Arkansas. I am just wondering if I provided a phone number if there was anything that I could do to shut these guys down? Please tell me where my position should be on this?

Sally   September 4th, 2009 4:58 pm ET

Eddie, I would suggest you look up the firm on the Internet and see if they actually exist. If so, call them directly (no 800 numbers.) There's probably no Spencer Reese and possibly no such law firm. Contact the Arkansas Attorney General's office to make a complaint. In any event, I'd doubt that federal agents will be popping up at your door to collect a debt. It's not like you embezzled a million dollars from the Federal Reserve.

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Clark Howard helps you become a wise consumer. We know you're busy, and that's why Clark's tips are quick and effective. He'll arm you with the information you need to make smart choices. During these tough economic times, Clark wants to help you save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off!