Protect your Social Security Number

How many times have you absent-mindedly filled in your social security number when filling out an apartment application, cell phone contract, cable company application or sports team entry form?

The Social Security Administration says you should think twice before giving out that all-important number and there are lots of reasons why.  

Tips on How to Protect your Social Security Number

October 5, 2017

Protect your Social Security Number

How many times have you absent-mindedly filled in your social security number when filling out an apartment application, cell phone contract, cable company application or sports team entry form?

According to the Social Security Administration, these entities don’t need to have your social security number to conduct business and you can refuse to give it out.

Of all the types of personal information that could put you at risk for identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands, your social security number tops that list. It’s so valuable because it is so widely used for financial, medical and governmental benefits. That’s why crooks want it.

The recent Equifax data breach teaches us that we are all vulnerable and we must learn to say ‘no’ when someone asks for that all important number. Before you give out this number, first ask lots of questions.

Get answers to these questions:

  • Why do you need my social security number? The Social Security Administration suggests offering another type of identifier, such as your driver’s license number.
  • Will my number be shared with anybody? Federal laws require some entities, such as financial, to tell you how they will share your non-public, personal information.
  • May I see your privacy policy? If the business does not have one, you should refuse to give out your number. If it has one, read it and make sure you are satisfied with what it says.
  • How will my social security number be stored? Will your rental application that contains your social security number sit in the landlord’s unlocked desk for anyone to sift through?

Once your social security number has been stolen, it can be used to apply for credit in your name, open up fake banking accounts, apply for governmental benefits or steal your tax refund. In some cases, bank and retirement accounts have been drained.

There are steps you can take to protect your number from theft.

  1. Freeze your Social Security Number

 

You may also consider locking your social security number if you have no plans to take out loans or apply for a new job in the near future.

To lock your social security number, visit the U.S. government’s myE-Verify website and complete the necessary steps online.

  1. Leave Your Social Security Card At Home
  2. Shred Documents with Your Number
  3. Know Who Requires This Information and Who Doesn’t

 

 

 

Keeping your number safe is one important step in protecting your identity.

Let us know what steps you take and how you avoid giving out your number.

Trulia, The Washington Post, SSA.gov, Bankrate.com contributed to this report.

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