Identity theft and many other fraudulent activities thrive in this country because many Americans tend to easily divulge their social security numbers for the many different kinds of transactions they engage in. With thieves, hackers, and deceptive people growing more daring by the minute, it has become even more important to control who gets access to your SSN. Always remember that your social security number is a precious piece of data that is not like your primary ID.
Vigilance in protecting your SSN is your responsibility. Don’t give your number just because someone asks. You must validate the reason and establish their authority first. You have to be sure to ask questions on how they will store, treat, share, and protect your SSN. If you feel like your SSN has been compromised consider how to request a new social security card, so you can start fresh on a clean slate. How do you know when to give and when to protect your SSN?
Instances When You Can Provide Your SSN
Keep in mind that not everyone who asks for your SSN actually needs this information. In general, in any organization is dealing with the IRS or internal revenue service about you, you will have to provide your social security number. This includes your employer, banks, lenders, the US Treasury if you apply for saving bonds, state or welfare departments, passport application, unemployment insurance departments of your state, and workers; compensation.
Other institutions and businesses that ask for your SSN don’t necessarily need it. Apart from the legitimate companies mentioned, no other group must attain access to your SSN. If they are persistent, then be even more resistant. When in doubt, the answer is always no. You have to protect yourself at all possible costs. Fortunately, there are many different ways on how to protect your social security number from scammers. Read on below how to get things done:
Offer a Different or an Alternative Kind of Identification
If any other business or organization asks for your social security number, offer to show your driver’s license instead. You can also opt to show other kinds of ID. Your passport is one good form of identification that is issued by the government. Other alternatives include your previous billings with your name and address, your Company ID, or your school ID from your university.
Be Nosy and Ask Why and How Your SSN Will Be Used
If businesses or people insist on having access to your SSN, consider this a red flag. Don’t be ashamed to ask questions because it is your right to do so. Ask why it is necessary to provide your SSN and how they would be handling this information. Consider asking these critical and direct questions:
- Why are you persistent in acquiring my SSN?
- Why is necessary to obtain this data?
- Who will you share this information if I give it to you?
- How will you protect and store my SSN?
- Will your company cover any liability if my SSN gets stolen and compromised?
That being said, if a business or organization that doesn’t legitimately need your SSN asks for it and you say no, be prepared that they will refuse to provide you service. They can also choose to put terms on your service. Some levy a deposit and add extra fees.
Leave the Actual Card Home
There is no need to lug around the actual SSN card with you in your wallet or purse. Leave this card in a safe place at home. On top of that, do not encode it in your laptop or phone where hackers can access your cloud. Instead, memorize it and keep it safe in your head, in case you may need to provide it for a legitimate government institution. The number remains safest tucked in your brain and the actual card safely stored at home. If your number becomes compromised, you might begin asking yourself how to request a new social security card.
Shred Mail and Other Documents with Your Personal Information
Identity thieves are drawn to your discarded mail and documents. Never just mindlessly throw out papers or discard mail that contains your personal information. It is vital to get a paper shredder in a discount or office supply store. Be vigilant about using this for all kinds of paperwork. In addition to this, continue to exercise vigilance by not leaving your mail in your mailbox for long periods of time. Stealing your mail is another way thieves can steal your identity. Consider purchasing a mailbox slot with a combination lock for added protection.
Never Use Your SSN as a Password
This should go without saying, but some people are reckless and do it anyway. Never use your whole or even a part of your social security number as a password. Your password file can be easily stolen, hacked, and then decrypt-ed. Someone can easily just watch you type it on a keypad over your shoulder and your identity is now compromised.
Refrain from Sending Your SSN via Electronic Device
Never ever type or key in your SSN into an email or an SMS and send it. People with ill intent can intercept your email messages and read what is contained therewith. On top of this, don’t leave your SSN in a voice mail because just about anyone can hear it. If you need to contact someone who legitimately needs access to your SSN, it is best to hand it over in person. The second best method is to have an actual conversation with this person over the phone. Just double-check to make sure your call is not recorded.
Be Cautious About Giving It
You should not provide the number to just anyone who calls you on the phone to request it. The same warning advice goes out to unsolicited emails and forms on the internet. As a rule of thumb, don’t give it to anyone unless you are certain they have a good and valid reason to access it.
Monitor Your Bank and Credit Card Accounts
Keep an eye on these because it is a way to ensure your SSN and identity have not been stolen. Your bank will allow you to have text alerts or call you if your transaction exceeds a certain amount. You can also ask them to notify you if someone tries to use your SSN to access your account. On top of that, check regularly check your credit score. If the Social Security Administration is sending you your annual statement, look at the details because you can readily tell if something is amiss with your data. You can register for this statement at the SSA’s official website.
Consider an Identity Protection Service
For added protection, you can register and pay for a protection service that will provide you identity insurance. Banks and credit unions also have these kinds of packages they sell to customers. Even major credit rating agencies offer this, so do read up on it if you want to take protection up a notch.
Protect Your Family’s SSN
While you are protecting your SSN, don’t forget to keep a watchful eye on your children’s SSNs too. These are typically used in medical facilities. Consider asking them to use your insurance account number instead for added protection.
As you can see, there are various ways wherein you can protect your social security number. Read up on the SSA’s booklet called Identity Theft and Your Social Security Number. Aside from offering you protection advice, it contains information on what you ought to do if your social security number has been stolen and compromised.