Do you ever have that morning when you wish someone else would go to work for you so you could sleep in or hang out? Doesn’t everyone have those mornings? Well, unbeknownst to you, someone could be going to work as you, and it’s not as great as it sounds. In fact, it could be devastating.
People commit employment identity theft—getting a job under someone else’s identity—for different reasons. Sometimes they’re in the country illegally or have a criminal history that they want to hide. Sometimes they want to work under cover so they can commit crimes on the job. They could steal from the employer, spy for a competitor, or use a trusted position to prey on innocent adults or even children.
In order to get a job, applicants now have to show employers a Social Security card, passport, or other personal document to verify citizenship, so just knowing your personal information isn’t enough; identity thieves will also need to present a fake, stolen or altered ID. You might find out about employment identity theft when you receive a W-2 or Form 1099 from an employer you’ve never heard of or a Social Security statement that doesn’t match your employment history or, especially if you’re retired, a notice that your Social Security benefits have been adjusted based on income that isn’t yours. If the imposter commits a crime, law enforcement could also come looking for you.
To help prevent employment identity theft, guard your Social Security Number, and check your W-2s and statements from Social Security carefully for any inaccuracies. You can set up a my Social Security account to check your benefits online. You should be checking your credit reports at least quarterly, so why not check your Social Security account at the same time?
If you do see something wrong, contact the Social Security administration, the IRS, and file a fraud report with your local police. The IRS has a good list of instructions on their website, with links to the Social Security administration. If you have an identity protection program like MyIDCare, contact your recovery team right away so they can handle the notifications for you and also clear you of any criminal charges caused by the imposter. Either way, be watchful and be prepared, because the worst day at the office is a walk in the park compared to dealing with identity theft.