Posted by Pat Raskob

How To Protect Your Social Security Number

How To Protect Your Social Security Number

Here are tips on how to prevent criminals from accessing your Social Security number.

Once potential identity thieves see your Social Security number, there is no way to keep your Social Security number a secret. However, there are steps you can take to protect your social security number and limit the risk of a stolen social security number being used against you.

Here's how to protect your Social Security information:

  • Create my social security account.

  • Don't always carry your social security card with you.

  • Do not give out your social security number in unsolicited calls or emails.

  • Shred papers with your social security number on them.

  • Understand who needs your number and who doesn't.


When to provide your social security number

Several organizations require your Social Security number, including your employer, the IRS, and financial institutions. But many other organizations can request for your Social Security number but don't need it, including hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, utilities, schools, and retail stores.

Many firms, such as those found in medical and dental offices, have a space for your social security number but may not be required if your insurer provides a unique identification number for your coverage as most do. Give your SSN only when it is really needed, and don't be afraid to ask why it is needed. 


How to protect your social security number

Do not keep your social security card in your wallet or take documents with your social security number with you. If you receive financial records or other documents that contain your Social Security number, keep them in a safe place or dispose of them carefully if you do not need them.

Make sure you keep your Social Security card in a secure, locked place in your home, where you know where it is and can take it when you need it. Make sure you shred all documents that contain personal information. 


How to spot social security number fraud

Some seniors get calls from people posing as representatives of the IRS, Social Security Administration, or financial institutions who claim to need to confirm their Social Security number. But neither of these organizations will likely contact you to ask for your number.

An organization does not need to call you and ask for this information because they already have it. No one will legitimately call and ask for this. If that happens, say 'no' and hang up.

A widespread phone scam involves informing potential victims that their SSN has been suspended or canceled, which is impossible because an SSN cannot be suspended.


Create my social security account

Workers aged 18 and over can create a social security account and get a personalized estimate of their future social contributions. Creating a My Social Security account enables you to check the accuracy of your income and correct any errors in order to benefit as much as possible from the benefits to which you are entitled. Creating an account also prevents anyone from using your Social Security number to open an account on your behalf and access benefits and income information.

You can still protect your Social Security account by setting up two-factor authentication. This means that in addition to your username and password, you use the second method of identification, such as an OTP (one-time password) sent to your mobile phone or your email address. The Social Security Administration states that using two methods of identification each time you log in better protects your account against unauthorized use and identity fraud.


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Pat Raskob
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