How To Protect Your Social Security Number: 10 Ssn Tips
If you want to help protect yourself against identity theft, protecting your Social Security number is a good start. Your Social Security number is a high-value target for ID theft. Getting an identity theft protection plan is one step to consider.
Your Social Security number, or SSN, is a key piece of personally identifiable information. In the wrong hands like, in the hands of an identity thief your Social Security number might lead to various types of identity theft or fraud.
What can identity thieves do with your Social Security number? Heres a sample:
- Open bank accounts
- Open new credit cards or lines of credit to make purchases in your name
- File tax returns to obtain your refund
- Open new service accounts in your name, such as utilities or internet service
- Put you in major debt
- Destroy your credit score across all three credit bureaus
The Equifax data breach in 2017, which exposed Social Security numbers and other U.S.-consumer information, raised the risk for identity theft of more than 145 million Americans.
Although you cant do anything about a breach, its a good idea to learn what you can do to protect yourself following a breach, and before a subsequent breach. No matter how big or small, no business or industry is immune to cyberthieves who may have identity theft in mind.
Here are some tips for protecting your Social Security number and identity.
Check If Your Child Has A Credit Report
Generally, a child under 18 wont have a credit report unless someone is using his or her information for fraud. A good way to find out if someone is using your childs information to commit fraud is to check if your child has a credit report. To do that, contact the three credit bureaus and ask for a manual search for your child’s Social Security number. You may have to give the credit bureaus a copy of
- your drivers license or other government-issued identification card
- proof of your address, like a utility bill, or a credit card or insurance statement
- your childs birth certificate
- your childs Social Security card
If youre not the childs parent, you may have to give the credit bureaus a copy of documents that prove you are the childs legal guardian.
When Your Child Turns 16
When your child turns 16, you may want to check if theres a credit report in his or her name. This could help you spot identity theft, since children under 18 usually dont have a credit report. If theres inaccurate information in your childs credit report, youll have time to correct it before he or she applies for a job, a college loan, a car loan, or a credit card, or tries to rent a place to live.
If You Have Been Victim Of Fraud
You can ask for a new SIN only if you can prove that your SIN was used fraudulently.
However, getting a new SIN will not necessarily protect you from fraud or identity theft. If someone else uses your old SIN as identification and the business does not check the person’s identity with the credit bureau, credit lenders may still ask you to pay the impostor’s debts. Each time, you will have to prove that you were not involved in the fraud.
If we issue you a new SIN, you will need to contact all your financial institutions, creditors, pension providers and employers to ask them to update your files.
Note: Service Canada cannot correct a credit file. It is up to you to contact your financial institution, report any discrepancies and have them resolved.
If you have proof that someone else is using your SIN, an investigation is required.
An indication that your SIN is being used fraudulently is when you receive a Notice of Reassessment from the Canada Revenue Agency concerning undeclared earnings. This means that another person has used your SIN for employment purposes or to receive other taxable income.
You must visit your nearest Service Canada Centre with your original proof of identity documents and provide proof that another person has used your SIN.
Here’s what you will need to provide to Service Canada if you suspect someone is using your SIN:
Protect Your Social Security Number
SSNs are often used by financial institutions, businesses, and others as a unique identification number. Identity thieves often target SSNs. Guard yours carefully.
- Never carry your Social Security card or number with you. Instead, memorize your number. Keep the card at home in a secure place.
- Only give your SSN to someone who has a specific and legitimate need for it.*
- Be careful who sees or asks for forms, applications, or other materials with your SSN on them.
- Never give your SSN out over the phone.
- Do not reply to email or websites that request your SSN.
- You do;not;need a SSN to open bank accounts.
- Don’t say your number out loud in public. If you need to give it to a bank teller or someone for identity purposes, write it down, then shred the paper.
*Some examples when you might be legitimately asked to provide your number: for insurance, employer payroll, financial transactions over $10,000, or when applying for credit or loans.
Do Not Give Out Your Number
Keep your Social Security number out of the digital realm and be wary of those who ask for it. You do not want to ever text your Social Security number or send it in an email. This leaves a clear paper trail and is essentially impossible to erase. If this happens, there is no telling who will be able to get ahold of it. This may lead to you learning how to get a replacement social security card online. If a website is asking for your Social Security number or is wishing that you send over a document containing it, you will want to go to great lengths to ensure that this website is secure. You will only want to use your Social Security number if it is absolutely necessary.
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Your Social Security Number Is The Key
Originally, your Social Security number was a way for the government to track your earnings and pay you retirement benefits. But over the years, it has become much more than that. It is the key to a lot of your personal information. With your name and SSN, an identity thief could open new credit and bank accounts, rent an apartment, or even get a job.
Tip : Memorize Your Social Security Number
Knowing your Social Security number by heart can be handy. Its there when you need it. Plus, you probably wont be tempted to carry your Social Security card with you or to jot down the number on a slip of paper.
This might seem like a small thing. But if youre not carrying your card with you, or youre not writing it down on slips of paper, youre far less likely to drop that paper or card on the ground or leave it behind at a local bank or government office. This means its less likely, too, that thieves might get their hands on your number.
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Ways To Protect Your Social Security Number
Don’t put your Social Security card in your wallet or carry around documents with your Social Security number. If you receive financial statements or other documents containing your Social Security number, lock them away in a safe place or shred them carefully if you don’t need them.
“Make sure you put your Social Security card in a safe, locked spot in your home where you know where it is and you can grab it when you need it,” says Amy Nofziger, director of victim support at AARP’s Fraud Watch Network. “Make sure you shred documents with any personal information on it. We recommend a cross-cut or confetti shredder.”
Dont Talk About Your Investments
This might seem like a no-brainer to many people but avoiding human error is the name of the game. Weve all heard people talking about the market at a bar or a party, and maybe even wondered if free advice was being unknowingly doled out.
Any mention of your investments in cryptocurrency is potentially much more than free advice to the right person. A 30-second conversation could tell a hacker your name, what type of cryptocurrency you own, which wallet youre holding it in, and when youre going to be back on your computer to notice if anythings wrong.;
Think about how quickly a couple or two friends can rattle off stories or run through information. All it takes is one savvy person paying attention while your guard is down.
Its a good rule to think about cryptocurrency access codes and information like your bank account number, routing number, and social security number all rolled into one. One piece of paper is like an all-access pass.;
The thief wont get their hands on a paper wallet, but they could easily hear all they need to rob us blind. Youre protecting one sheets worth of information thats harder to keep secret than how well your portfolio is doing. Its also more immediately valuable.
Dont respond to private messages promising to help you invest or making you offers than sound too good to be true. Ask publicly here if you receive a private message about a service. If you have a serious concern here, notify user @The CC Forums on the forums section.
Drawbacks Of Locking Your Ssn
It might not make sense to lock your Social Security number if you dont have reason to believe that your identity has been compromised or that youre at serious risk of identity theft.;
- When your Social Security number is locked, you cant use it either
- You cant use it to apply for a new job
- You cant use it to apply for credit
- Potential lenders wont be able to access your credit report or credit score
Tip : Monitor Your Accounts And Be Aware Of New Accounts Being Opened
If someone obtains your SSN, you may find evidence of unlawful use in your bank, credit, or other accounts. Consider setting up alerts with your financial institutions to flag unusual activity, such as withdrawals or purchases over a certain amount. Watch for changes in your credit score. And check your credit reports. Youre entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
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Encryption: Secure But Not User
You can send encrypted email if the company you are working with offers that option. Encrypted messages are scrambled behind industry-standard cryptographic algorithms and other secure methods.
But while businesses may rely on encrypted email to keep snoops at bay, it isn’t typically a user-friendly option. Not only must the sender have the wherewithal to encrypt a message, but the recipient also needs the right digital key to unscramble it.
“That’s just not something most people are going to do, says Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the nonprofit;Identity Theft Resource Center;in San Diego, which educates consumers on the risks of identity theft and offers free services to help victims recover.
Offer An Alternative Form Of Identification
When someone requests you to present your Social Security number, it is always recommended that you offer them another form of valid identification. Oftentimes, these businesses or entities will take more than one form of identification, allowing you to withhold your sensitive information. Some businesses and institutions have legal rights to ask you for your Social Security number, but they typically do not actually need it. They may accept your passport, drivers license, or even a student ID.
The Irs Dirty Dozen Are Common Tax Schemes That Peak During Filing Season
On its website, the IRS recently revealed its 2021 Dirty Dozen, saying taxpayers may fall victim to these common tax schemes year-round and especially during tax filing season.
This years Dirty Dozen is sorted into four categories: pandemic-related scams, personal information cons, ruses focusing on unsuspecting victims, and schemes that persuade taxpayers into unscrupulous actions. The IRS urges all taxpayers to be on guard, especially during the pandemic, not only for themselves, but also for other people in their lives, the agency added.
Guard Your Personal Information
- Only provide your SSN or financial account numbers online through valid, secure websites.; Secure websites often have a lock icon in the lower right-hand corner.; A secure websites address will change from http to https.
- Be cautious about providing any personal information online, but keep in mind that some government sites and the credit bureaus require such information. Read privacy policies and ask how your personal information will be used.
- Dont post personal financial information on social networking sites or in chat rooms.
- Beware of websites that ask personal questions or require a credit card number;to enter the site.
- Before you do business with a company online, check them out with the Attorney Generals Office by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or check with the Better Business Bureau.
- Use one low-limit credit card for all online purchases, or request a one-time-use number from your credit card company.
- Choose an alias as a user name and use an alternate email address for online shopping, Internet auctions and other online transactions.
- When selling goods online, watch out for counterfeit checks and money orders.; Never agree to wire excess payments back to the buyer;or to someone else.
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Here’s Where To Get More Information On Social Security Numbers
Identity Theft: If you think an identity thief is using your SSN to work or to collect benefits, call the Social Security Fraud Hotline at 1-800-269-0271. If you think someone may be using your SSN to work, check your Social Security Personal Earnings and Benefit Statement. You can get a copy by calling 1-800-772-1213, or online at www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7004.pdf. Also see the Social Security Administration’s booklet “Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number,” at www.ssa.gov/pubs/10064.html.
History of SSNs: For a chronology of the laws relating to SSNs, see www.ssa.gov/history/ssn/ssnchron.html.
What the Numbers Mean: For an explanation of the meaning of the numbers in SSNs and answers to other questions about SSNs, see www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/.
More on Protecting your SSN: “Fact Sheet 10: My Social Security Number: How Secure Is It?” from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, at www.privacyrights.org.
Recommended Practices: For recommendations on how organizations can protect privacy in their handling of SSNs, see Recommended Practices for Protecting the Confidentiality of Social Security Numbers on the Business page at www.privacy.ca.gov.
Tip : Beware Of Phone And Email Scams
Identity thieves may try to trick you into revealing your SSN. For instance, in a phone or email, they might pose as your employer or a government office requesting information. Avoid sharing your number unless youre positive its a legitimate request.
Better yet, consider calling the requesting organization at a verifiable telephone number to provide the information. Or visit in person.
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How To Safeguard Your Social Security Number
Keeping your Social Security number safe is as important as obtaining and safeguarding your Social Security card. Since your card has your unique nine-digit number on it, keep your Social Security card in a safe place. Never carry it with you, unless you know youre going to have to show it to a bank or government official or an employer.
Here are a couple of tips to help you safeguard your Social Security number:
- Never reveal your Social Security number to strangers.
- Youll need to present your Social Security card or share your number when youre applying for a bank loan, a federal loan, or a government benefit. Youll also need to do this when youre applying for a passport or obtaining a driving license. However, be sure to return your Social Security card to a safe place afterward.
The Application Process And Required Documents:
STEP 1: Obtain an on campus job or off campus work permission.
STEP 2: Gather the required immigration and work eligibility documents:
STEP 4: Apply in person at the local Social Security office with your completed application and eligibility documents.
- Address: 345 E Federal Street, Youngstown, OH 44503
- Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9:00 am 4:00 pm, Wednesday 9:00 am 12:00 pm, closed Saturday, Sunday and all federal holidays. You must arrive at least 30 minutes before closing to process an SSN application.
- If you are no longer in Youngstown, you can find a local SSN office
STEP 5: Wait for the SSN card. The card will be mailed to the address you used on the SS-5. Normal processing time is 10-15 business days. If you have not received your SSN card within 30 days of application, return to the Social Security office to inquire about the status of your application.
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Avoiding Social Security Fraud: Leave Your Social Security Card At Home
Once you receive your replacement Social Security card, lock it away in a safe place until you absolutely need it. Experts advise to avoid carrying your card around on a regular basis partly because of the risk of losing it again, and partly because you really dont need to present your Social Security card on a regular basis. In fact, one Social Security expert says that Social Security cards are irrelevant in the digital age, and the real priority should be targeted at fraud protection.
Its extremely rare that you need your actual Social Security card, says Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq., an Amherst, Massachusetts-based college professor whose expertise is in investigating white-collar crime. A Social Security number is the most important piece of information that a criminal can use to make you a victim of identity theft so you shouldn’t carry it with you in your wallet, anyway.
But if you do lose your card, Weisman recommends taking direct action to protecting the cardholder from financial fraud.
Because of the danger of identity theft if your Social Security card is lost, you should put a credit freeze on your credit reports at each of the three major credit reporting agencies in order to prevent someone from leveraging the Social Security number into accessing your credit or establishing accounts in your name, he says.
Other data security experts agree, citing the high risk of losing a card if you cart it around in your wallet or pocketbook.