Staying smart about sharing and protecting your privacy these days is a challenge, especially for the elderly. If identity thieves obtain your Social Security number, you are at a greater risk to have your money and government benefits stolen. In 2016, 15 million people were victims of identity theft. Only about 400 new numbers were issued, making the process of getting a new Social Security number almost impossible. The best defense is a good offense by protecting those nine digits with these 5 tips:
- Leave it at home: To prevent your card from being stolen from your wallet or purse, simply leave it at home. Unless you are seeing a health care provider for the first time, you do not even need to carry your Medicare card (it has your Social Security number on it).
- Don’t give the numbers out: Employers, banks/lenders, investment funds, the IRS and some government-funded programs are the only organizations that have a legal right to your Social Security number. You do not need to provide it to others.
- Guard the Final Four: We often provide the last four digits of our Social Security, but these are the numbers we need to protect the most. The first five numbers dictate when and where the Social Security card was issued. Identity thieves can obtain those numbers by knowing your birth date and hometown. Don’t use the last four as a PIN or share in emails and use an alternative identifier when asked for the last four digits.
- Freeze the thieves out: You can place a security freeze on your file at the big three credit rating agencies so thieves can’t get loans in your name. Read more here to place a security freeze.
- Report identify theft quickly: If your Social Security number is illegally used, contact the Federal Trade Commission at 877-438-4338. For more information regarding reporting identity theft or a lost or stolen Social Security card, read here.
Stay smart and guard your Social Security number with these 5 tips. For more information regarding your legal situation, please contact Gerstenberger Law at (770) 920-7722.
The information found on the Gerstenberger Law site is for educational purposes only. Your situation and the situation of others are unique and more complex. This is neither legal advice nor to be considered legal advice. Contact us for advice about your specific situation.