Consumers should put credit reports, not Social Security numbers, on fraud alert when they suspect identity theft or other misuse of financial or personal information, reports the Federal Trade Commission. The Office of the Inspector General investigates fraud when Social Security numbers are criminally misused, states the Social Security Administration.
Consumers can place a fraud alert on their credit reports by phoning any one of the three major credit reporting companies, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The credit reporting company that is first contacted alerts the others, and the consumer is entitled to a credit report from each of the three companies. The fraud alert is free, initially lasts 90 days and is renewable. During the alert, a business must verify a consumer's identity before issuing any type of credit. If identity theft is confirmed, the consumer can request an extended fraud alert lasting seven years by submitting a request form and including a copy of an official identity theft report.
Consumers submit reports to the Office of the Inspector General of the Social Security Administration when they witness fraud or abuse of Social Security numbers, reports the Social Security Administration. Examples of Social Security fraud include making false statements on claims for Social Security benefits, misuse of benefits by representatives of Social Security recipients, trafficking in legitimate or counterfeit Social Security cards, attempting to impersonate a Social Security employee or offering a bribe to a Social Security employee.