Social Security Numbers are the key to our identities.
Originally created in 1935 and used to report employees’ incomes for the Social Security program.
However, overtime, SSN morphed into a default National Identification Number.
A lot of companies, with and without a legitimate reason, ask for SSN and use it as an authenticator and identifier.
We need SSN to file taxes, obtain a mortgage, rent an apartment, apply for new credit, and get a new job. There is really not much we can do without our SSN these days.
Because our financial lives are attached to SSN, you can see why it is so valuable to identity thieves.
How Identity Thieves obtain SSNs:
- Dumpster Diving
- Stealing Mail
- Bribing insiders to give out information
- Public Records
- Data/Information Brokers
- Data Breaches
- Theft from Business
What Identity Thieves can do with SSN
- Open new credit card accounts
- Gain access to existing credit card accounts
- Open bank accounts
- Obtain government benefits
- File fraudulent tax return and claim tax refund
- Obtain employment
- Get medical treatment
- Apply for Driver’s License
- Get a mortgage
- File for bankruptcy
- Get a car
- And a lot more!
What you can do to protect your SSN and reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Don’t just give your SSN to any business/entity asking for it. They may not have a legitimate purpose for it. Your doctor’s office doesn’t need your SSN unless, of course, you receive Medicare benefits.
- Find out why SSN is needed, how it is going to be used and how it is going to be handled.
- Don’t carry your SS card with you; instead, memorize your SSN.
- Don’t write SSN on the checks.
- Provide your SSN to a potential employer only when there is a solid employment offer on the table.
- And don’t write your SSN on the resume! As surprising as it is, it happens more often than you think.
- Avoid using your SSN as an identification number at work. Yes, some companies still use SSN as an Employee Identification number.
- Request companies to truncate your SSN in correspondence and show only the last 4 digit of your SSN.
- Don’t use your SSN as a student identification number.
- Don’t use your SSN as a password or a PIN.
- Keep it in a safe place.
- Make sure to safeguard your child’s SS card. Child identity theft is on the rise!
How do you safeguard your SSN? Please leave a comment below.