What Does Your Social Security Number Say About You
For the average American, the Social Security Number holds special significance. It follows you from birth to death and can act as a key to a variety of sensitive information bank accounts, tax returns, drivers license information, residences, etc. However, even though you likely know your social by heart, you probably dont know what those nine digits actually reveal. Todays blog explores the history and significance of the social security number and how the SSN is used in the background screening industry.
Tell Us Your Social Security Number And We’ll Tell You What State You Were Born In Find Out What Else We Can Figure Out About You From Your Digits
Lane V. Erickson/ShutterstockIf you were born after 1935, youve probably had a Social Security Number for your entire life, and youve probably had it memorized since the first time you ever wrote it out . For anyone born before 1935, either you or your parents likely applied for a social security card in person at a local Social Security Office, following President Franklin Delano Roosevelts passage of the Social Security Act of 1935 (which was designed to provide a safety net for the elderly and disabled in the form of an annuity funded through income taxes specifically earmarked for that purpose.
Since its inception, the number has always been made up of the following three parts:
- The first three digits, which comprise the Area Number
- The next two digits, which comprise the Group Number
- The last four digits, which comprise the Serial Number
Given that the social security number format was designed to track unique and sensitive personal records of every American, the first five digits are amazingly transparent and can reliably reveal certain information about most cardholders. Here is what they can reveal about you:
When To Provide Your Ssn
Not everyone who requests your SSN actually needs it. Generally speaking, if an entity reports information about you to the Internal Revenue Service , you probably have to supply your SSN. This includes your employer, banks/lenders, the U.S. Treasury for savings bonds, and state unemployment insurance and workers compensation offices.
Although other institutions and businesses have the right to ask for your number, they often dont need it, and you arent legally required to provide it.
As of Jan. 1, 2020, Medicare no longer uses Social Security numbers for identification. Instead, Medicare recipients receive a Medicare Beneficiary Identifier a unique series of numbers and letters that they should also try to protect from identity thieves.
Dont Make Transactions On Open Networks
When theres no password required to access a WiFi network, unencrypted data can be visible to any computer nearby. These other computers may be able to intercept information youre transmitting and receiving from websites that dont have https in the URL.
That means you could be sending your credit card number or other personal information right into the waiting hands of an identity thief.
Bottom line: Never enter your credit card number when using unsecured public WiFi networks if youre not sure whether the website uses SSL.
What To Do If You Lose Your Social Security Card
Reading time: 5 minutes
- Your Social Security number can be valuable information for identity thieves
- Consider placing a security freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports if your Social Security card is lost
- If you know your Social Security number has been stolen, there are some additional steps you can take
Your Social Security number is a valuable piece of information to identity thieves. Its a key element of your identity and is also linked to taxes and credit information. And except in limited circumstances, it cant be changed. Thats why its so worrisome to have your card lost or stolen.;
Here are some steps to take for a lost or stolen Social Security card:
1.;;;Consider placing a fraud alert or a security freeze on your credit reports or locking them. With an initial fraud alert, potential lenders and creditors are encouraged to take additional steps to verify your identity, such as contacting you by phone, before extending new credit. A fraud alert lasts for one year and can be renewed. Fraud alerts are free. Contact one of the three nationwide credit bureaus Equifax, Experian or TransUnion to request a fraud alert, and that bureau will notify the other two.;
Options for locking your credit report may also be available from the three nationwide credit bureaus. Learn more about fraud alerts, security freezes and credit report locks.
You might also consider calling the Social Security Administration at 772-1213 to report the lost card.
Don’t Miss: How Much Is It To Get My Social Security Card
How To Keep Your Social Security Card Safe
Keeping your card under lock and key is vital to the health of your overall financial and medical life. Its time to focus on protecting your card in the future.
- A watertight and fireproof safe can be a good option for keeping your Social Security card safe, as well as other important documents. Ask your bank about a safe deposit box if youâll be away from your home for an extended period.
- Never carry your Social Security card with you. Unless you need your card for a specific purpose that day, it should be kept safe at home.
- Follow safe procedures for keeping your Social Security number safe online, in email and over the phone. Fraudsters use âphishingâ techniques to get access to your personal data, often posing as a bank or government official â never give your social security number out.
- Purchase a shredder or use a secure shredding service for all documents containing your Social Security and financial information.
Home Security Experts
The Safety Team is a group of experts that handle provider research, product reviews and recalls to make your home safety and security search as easy as 1-2-3.
Like what you’ve read?
Get A Social Security Statement
The Social Security Administration maintains an online service that lets you find out what you have paid into Social Security, how many hours of work your employers have reported each quarter, and what your expected benefits would be if you were to retire or go on disability in the near future.
You may think that would be wonderful since the worker reporting hours to your Social Security account is moving you closer to vesting your Social Security benefit, but in fact, you can have your expected Social Security payments greatly reduced if someone is reporting low-wage labor to your account. So you want to clear up any double-dipping of your Social Security account.
Requesting your statement is straightforward. You will need to create a my Social Security account if you dont already have one. You can access the sign-in/account creation page here. Once logged in, you can request a Social Security statement to print out from your account. If you prefer a low-tech approach, you can fill out a request form and mail it in, and get a statement mailed to you in 4 to 6 weeks.
Don’t Miss: Can You Get Ssdi And Social Security
Dissecting The Social Security Number
The nine digit social security number is grouped into three parts the area number, group number, and serial number.
The Area Number
The area number is the first grouping in the social security number. Originally, the area number indicated the location of the Social Security Administration office where an SSN was issued . Individuals could apply at any office, so the area number was not an indication of where they lived or worked. This changed in 1972 when the Social Security Administration began issuing SSNs from its Baltimore headquarters and assigning area numbers based on the applicants mailing address.
Anyone who applied for a social security number between 1972 and 2011 will have an area number that correlates to the mailing address listed on their application . However, the area number cannot be used to determine residence since you can have mail sent to any location. In 2011, the SSA changed the way area numbers are assigned yet again to a system called randomization. Anyone applying for an SSN after June 25, 2011 has received a randomized area number that has no correlation to any location .
The Group Number
The middle section of numbers is simply there to make administration easier for the SSA. The group number ranges from 01 to 99 and allows Social Security Numbers with the same area number to be broken into smaller pairings. Geographic data is not indicated by the group number.
The Serial Number
Identity Theft: What You Need To Know
Thieves with access to personal information Social Security number, birth certificate, PIN or credit card numbers, even pre-approved credit card solicitations can steal your identity and apply for credit in your name, racking up huge debts without you even knowing that it has happeneduntil its too late. Stay safe. Follow these simple suggestions.
Safeguard Your Personal Information: ;
Protect Your Bank Accounts and Your Mail:
Protect Yourself on the Internet and Protect Your Computer:
- If you must use a public computer, confirm first that it is not running a desktop search engine and that the proprietor has denied users administrative privileges so they can’t install any programs that might be used to capture your emails or passwords.;
If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft:
Certegy Inc.: 437-5120
Replacement Card For A Foreign Born U S Citizen Adult
You can replace your Social Security card for free if it is lost or stolen. However, you may not need to get a replacement card. Knowing your Social Security number is what’s important. You are limited to three replacement cards in a year and 10 during your lifetime. Legal name changes do not count toward these limits. Also, you may not be affected by these limits if you can prove you need the card to prevent a significant hardship.
You must present original documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them. We cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies. All documents must be current . We cannot accept a receipt showing you applied for the document.
You may be able to request your replacement Social Security card online. Our online service is a fast and secure way to get a replacement. If you are age 18 or older with a U.S. mailing address and have amySocial Security account, you can apply for a replacement card online. For more information about creating my Social Security account and getting a replacement card online, visit our Social Security Number and Card website.
When Opening An Account With Any Us Financial Institution
Since 1970, the federal government has required banks to obtain customers Social Security numbers or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number .Financial institutions use your SSN to check your credit, to report your interest and investment income or losses to the IRS, to report your tax-deductible mortgage interest to the IRS, and to manage your account.
As an alternative, some financial institutions will accept a taxpayer identification number , which youll need to apply for through the IRS.;
How To Apply For A Replacement Social Security Card
If you lose your Social Security card, you may be able to apply for a replacement card online through the Social Security Administration website, if you meet certain requirements. Review them here. Otherwise, youll need to follow an application process that involves providing documentation and completing an application.
Here are 3 simple steps to prepare to apply for a replacement Social Security card:
Types Of Social Security Cards
SSA issues three types of Social Security cards. One, the familiar card most people have, has been issued since 1935. It shows the person’s name and Social Security number, and it lets the person work without restriction. SSA issues it to U. S. citizens and permanent resident aliens.
The second type of card bears the legend NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT. SSA issues it to people from other countries who are admitted to the United States on a temporary basis but not for work, and who need a number for other purposes, such as banking. SSA began issuing the third type of card in 1992. It bears the legend VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION. It is issued to people who are admitted to the United States on a temporary basis with Immigration and Naturalization Service employment authorization.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Your Social Security Card Fast
Can I Work In The Us Without A Social Security Number
Employees must present an original document or documents that show their identity and employment authorization within three days of starting employment, and you employer must attest to receipt of the authorization.
However, you can provide receipts showing that you have applied for documentation. Your social security number and other documentation must be provided to the employer within 90 days. You have options to secure employment while you wait to receive a social security number. So, its important to apply for a social security number as soon as possible.
It’s not possible to legally work indefinitely within the U.S. without a social security number.
If you are an immigrant seeking employment in the U.S. or have already been granted a nonimmigrant work visa, you must take steps to obtain a social security number.
They Can Use Your Ssn To Get A Loan In Your Name
Steven J.J. Weisman, author of “Identity Theft Alert: 10 Rules You Must Follow to Protect Yourself from America’s #1 Crime,” said that one of the worst things an identity thief can do with your Social Security number is to obtain a loan in your name. To do this, the hacker would first need to use your SSN to access your credit reports. Then, using the data, he could get a loan in your name — and never pay it back.
This is not only bad for your credit, Weisman said, but it can also affect your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, get insurance or obtain a loan. All of these things often depend on having a good credit report.
If this type of fraud happens to you, you need to contact the lender involved, the police and the FTC. The issue can be difficult and time-consuming to fix.
Pro tip: Weisman said it’s easier to safeguard your SSN than it is to repair ruined credit after someone has stolen it.
“You should not carry your Social Security number in your wallet or purse,” he said. “You should not provide it as an identifying number to everyone who asks for it. Many places ask for it but don’t need it by law.”
The lesson here: Always ask if your SSN is actually needed.
Read Also: What Age Can I Sign Up For Social Security
Someones Got Your Number What Can You Do
Figuring out that someone has your Social Security Number is one thing. Fixing the problem is another.;If you think someone is using your Social Security Number, you need to move quickly.
You have four things you need to do. You need to contact the Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft, contact the credit reference agencies to report the theft, contact the Social Security Administration, and contact your local police.
- The FTC is at 1-877-438-4338 or . There is a form to complete to report identity theft.
- Contact the three credit reference agencies and ask them to place a freeze on your credit report. This will prevent any new applications being created in your name. This will stop more debt from piling up.
- Contact the SSA on 1-800-269-0271 or Log on to the IRS Identity Protection website to alert them and prevent any tax returns from being filed in your name.
- Optionally, but recommended, alert the Internet Crime Complaints Center at . They alert other agencies that your SSN has been compromised.
Once all that has been done, report the crime to your local police. If you know how the theft took place, for example, you had your wallet stolen, the police will want to know where the theft would have happened, and what transpired.
Common Credit Card Security Features
Nearly all credit cards come with the following security features:
- The basics:;All cards used by American shoppers have a signature panel, expiration date, magnetic strip, and unique account number.
- Signature panel: Believe it or not, credit cards must be signed according to credit card issuer terms. Merchants can refuse to accept cards if the signature box is empty, or if it has the words See I.D.
- Security code: This three-digit code on the back of the credit card is required for processing any card not present transactions. Its also known as a CVV card verification value.
- Chip cards : Unlike cards with only magnetic stripes, chip cards;encrypt information at each transaction, making fraud much more difficult.
- Holographs: These come standard on most credit cards, and are unique to the card network.
- Usage monitoring: If you make an abnormal purchase such as for a large amount or in a different location than usual your issuer may flag the card;and take steps to verify the purchase was authentic.
Some credit cards also come with additional security features like:
Also Check: How Can I Lock My Social Security Number