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Social Security Number Alerts: What Are They, and How Do I Use Them?

Published Nov 12, 20214 min read

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At a glance

Discover and Capital One each provide an information monitoring program designed to protect you by letting you know if your Social Security number shows up on any dark websites. Capital One will also search for any uses of your email or address associated with the SSN. Both offer advice and tips on what to do should you receive an alert.

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There are seedy parts of the World Wide Web that are best left alone. But sometimes, malicious entities might target your personal and financial information to sell on the dark web, as these websites are known. This all takes place behind the scenes, unbeknownst to you.

Personal information is sold on the dark web to be used by scammers to fraudulently apply for credit cards, loans, lines of credit, and much more. And these transactions happen without most people’s knowledge, and definitely without their consent.

Enter, Discover and Capital One’s SSN alerts. The programs aim to protect you from identity theft if your information ever ends up on the dark web. But for that to happen, you’ll need to know how to enroll, and how the alerts work.

How Do You Put an Alert on Your Social Security Number?

In order to take advantage of Discover’s program, you’ll first need to be a Discover cardmember (see Discover credit cards here). If that’s the case, you can navigate to your Discover account page. From there, you’ll be able to activate alerts for your account. You’ll need to verify your email address and give Discover permission to contact you.

Capital One offers the CreditWise tool, which is free to use for everyone, regardless of whether or not you’re a Capital One cardholder.

To sign up for CreditWise, navigate to the CreditWise site. From there, you can create an account to enable protection.

Insider tip

Social Security scams and credit card scams are on the rise. Learn how to protect yourself from phishing, skimming, and other scams.

Discover Social Security Number Alerts

Right now, there could be shady individuals selling your information on the dark web. To prevent this, Discover monitors thousands of dark websites to make sure that if it happens, you’ll know about it and will be able to take action.

If Discover finds your Social Security number on one of those sites, Discover will let you know either via email or text message, depending on your chosen preference.

Discover will also monitor Experian credit reports for any suspicious activity, like new credit inquiries and new accounts. Credit accounts include car loans, lines of credit, credit cards, mortgages, and anything else that requires a credit check.

Capital One Social Security Number Alerts

Similar to Discover’s program, Capital One will monitor the dark web for your SSN. If it shows up, Capital One will alert you via email or phone.

However, the CreditWise tools expand on the service. Capital One will also keep an eye out for your email, as well as names and addresses associated with your Social Security number. Additionally, CreditWise monitors both Experian and TransUnion credit reports for unrecognized credit activity.

CreditWise is also a free credit monitoring tool, meaning you can use it to keep an eye on one of your credit scores, and it offers tips on how to improve your credit.

So it covers a bit more ground than Discover’s program, and doesn’t require a Capital One credit card.

What Happens if I Get an Alert?

If Discover lives up to its name and contacts you regarding a breach in your security, you’ll have access to its fraud and ID theft experts. Those experts can help you place fraud alerts with all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian).

Fraud alerts require lenders to confirm your identity before approving new credit. Whenever an attempt is made to open new credit in your name, you’ll be contacted to verify your identity to ensure you’re the one applying. If your identity can’t be confirmed for the application, the action will be blocked.

If you receive an alert from CreditWise, you can choose the “Additional Info” option to see just what information may have been accessed. Unfortunately it seems after an alert Capital One is less involved than Discover.

Rather than putting you in contact with fraud experts, Capital One provides recommendations on how to act, including calling the toll-free phone numbers for the main credit bureaus to place fraud alerts on your credit reports.

Insider tip

Need to dispute a fraudulent charge on your credit card? We can show you how.

Other Credit Card Issuer Alert Programs

Most credit card issuers don’t offer SSN alerts, but they do provide credit card alerts. Issuers will monitor your account for fraudulent activity, and it’s very common for them to have a zero liability guarantee in case unauthorized uses of your credit cards occur. Most also offer a fast and easy way to freeze and unfreeze your accounts, and offer replacement cards if need be.

Good Discover Cards to Choose

Discover has a few cards to choose from, and you’ll need one to take advantage of its SSN alerts. Below you’ll find some of the best.

  • Discover it® Cash Back (Review): Earn an impressive 5% cash back (up to $1,500 spent per quarter, then 1%; activation required) for a quarterly rotating selection of bonus categories. There’s no annual fee, and Discover will double the rewards you earn for the first year.
  • Discover it® Miles (Review): Looking for an inexpensive travel card? This one has no annual fee and earns 1.5X miles for every dollar spent.
  • ​​Discover it® Student Cash Back (Review): If you’re a student, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding card. Like its non-student counterpart, this one offers 5% cash back (up to $1,500 spent per quarter, then 1%; activation required), with double the rewards for the first year, for no annual fee.

Good Capital One Cards to Choose

Capital One has a huge selection of cards to choose from, for every kind of customer. While you don’t need one to use its CreditWise program, maybe one will catch your eye anyway. Below you’ll find a handful of some of the best.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
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The information related to Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Were you a victim of identity theft or fraud? Maybe we can help. Dealing With Fraud and Identity Theft
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Written by

Evan Zimmer

Evan graduated from SUNY Oswego with a degree in journalism and creative writing. In his professional writing career, he strives for precision and comprehension in his work. He’s written news articles, blog posts, and copy, working across a slew of different mediums. With in-depth research and great care for accuracy and detail, he now works to bring you the most up-to-date credit information.

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