The most sensitive piece of personally identifiable information is without a doubt your social security number. This is one piece of information you don’t want anybody else getting their hands on. An identity thief can do unthinkable amounts of damage with your social security number and very little other information. So what do you need to do in order to keep your SSN as secure as possible?
A typical yet effective strategy on preventing Social Security Number (SSN) theft is on the way, finally. This change will hopefully make it more difficult for identity thieves to easily access your SSN and use it for identity theft purposes. Your SSN will eventually be excluded by Medicare as part of their benefit cards. Over the years, these numbers have been among the primary basis for medical identification. This was just a problem waiting to happen. And guess what, it did happen. In the form of countless cases of identity theft.
Recently, President Obama signed a bill intending to stop using SSNs when transacting with Medicare. This law was accepted by the State’s major political parties. The primary objective of this law is to modify doctors’ fees when it comes to giving medical services to patients covered by Medicare, however there is a specific section of the law that emphasizes that never should SSNs be reflected, typed, or included on the Medicare ID.
According to Texas Representative Sam Johnson (Republican), the main ingredient to making identity theft possible is the SSNs and that the criminals use the Medicare cards of the seniors as a tool.
“Carry your card with you when you are away from home. Let your hospital or doctor see your card when you require hospital, medical or health services under Medicare.” These statements serve as aid to prevent identity theft. This defies the rule that mandates not a single person should ever bring their personal SSN on their behalf. The good news is that the law just solved identity theft by addressing the source.
While this is true however, there are still other ways by which culprits will be able to get your SSN and use it to their schemes. Take note of the following ways where your social security number is most vulnerable and protect yourself in the future. If you do become a victim of a stolen social security number, here are some steps to follow immediately.
1. Tax Documents
These days, filing taxes through mail is a common practice. If you are among the people who do this, there is a possibility that unauthorized people/entities may have access to your documents containing sensitive, personal information like your SSN. Identity thieves can simply take mail from your mail box during tax season. They know exactly what they’re looking for and within seconds, they can have your social security number, and possibly even drivers license numbers, phone numbers and your entire identity. In addition to, SSN thieves also execute their crime through phone scams. Fraudsters pretend to be IRS representatives contacting people and convincing them to provide specific information such as the SSN and other documents. Keep in mind that the IRS only communicates through mail. Solution: Don’t file your taxes via mail. Ask your tax preparer to e-file or if you do your own taxes, you have this option as well. Keep the sensitive paperwork out of the mail and the hands of id thieves.
2. Data Sharing
When you stop and think about it, it seems like every agency requires SSN today – from government agencies, real estate companies, insurance firms, and even telephone plan provider. Unfortunately, providing your SSN is something that most people nowadays do not worry about anymore. It is true that a lot of institutions need SSN for their processes. However, it does not necessarily mean that everyone should lawfully have it. For your information, the law states that it is the IRS, healthcare providers, police, banks, and employers which are allowed to require Social Security Numbers and information from you. A few companies, however, may also be permitted but the process must be upon strict compliance with the law. Whenever you notice that there is an option that does not require you to share your SNN information, choose not to share it. This limits the possibility for your SSN details to be obtained by fraudsters.
3. Bank transactions
Clearly, the law allows banking institutions to ask for your SSN information. However, they are mandated to observe and abide by the “Know Your Customer” guidelines. This stops criminals to use the banks for their fraudulent schemes. As a customer, you have the privilege to learn about the measures that the bank adopts in order to secure your SSN details as well as be oriented about their solutions in case a breach happens.
When you know about the typical sources of SSN ID theft, you will be able to protect yourself from it. Safeguard your SSN at all times by keeping your SS card in your safety deposit box or in a safe at home. Never carry your social security card on your person. It is not necessary. Furthermore, don’t feel that you are required to share your social security number with anyone. You can always refuse to provide it if you don’t feel comfortable with the person asking for it. As always, monitor your credit for signs of fraud or unauthorized use.
My name is Jennifer Price and I started StopIdentityFraud.org because internet privacy & security are issues that are extremely important to me. As a private network security consultant, too often do I see the damage that can be caused by identity theft & fraud. It’s my goal to help educate people about id theft and how to better protect themselves against it. Feel free to get in touch with me here or on any of my social media profiles.
I Lost My Social Security Card! This is one phrase that will strike fear in just about anyone.
You’ve left the restaurant, you’re having a good time with those you love, and when you get to the next place on the agenda for the evening you realize that you were having such a good time that you forgot your wallet. This causes a slight heart palpitation for a moment as you dash back to the restaurant, bother the people who are sitting at your table now as you frantically search for where you might have dropped it, and in the end, you get zero hope from the statement from the hostess who says they’ll contact you if they ever find it. Losing a Social Security card happens more often than you might think – if you’ve lost yours, then here’s what you’re going to need to do to get another one… along with the protective steps you’ll need to take if whomever has your card has some plans for it.
The First Thing To Do Is File for Your Replacement Card
Because of the time that it takes to get your card and the amount of materials you may need to obtain that you don’t have, the first step you’ll need to take is to work on filing for your replacement card. In order to get your replacement card, you must:Gather documents proving your:Identity. This is done through your driver’s license, a state issued non-driver identification card, or your passport. If you don’t have one these or cannot get a replacement copy in 10 business days, then there is a secondary list which the Social Security Administration can use. Non-citizens will need to provide proof of their immigration status through their I-551, I-94, or I-766 froms.U.S. citizenship. If you have not established your citizenship with the Social Security Administration, you will need to provide an original copy or agency-issued certified copy of either your birth certificate, your passport, Certificate of Naturalization, or Certificate of Citizenship with your application materials.Immigration status. If you are not a U.S. citizen, then you’ll need to provide proof of your immigration status through the identity documents listed above. In addition, if you are a student or a J1 visitor, you may need to provide additional documentation regarding your legal status in the country.
Once you have gathered the documents that you need to prove that you really who you say you are, you will then need to complete an Application for a Social Security Card. Be aware, however, that you can only receive up to 3 replacement Social Security cards in a calendar year and that there is a cap of 10 maximum replacements that can be issued to you.
Once you have filled out the application, you simply take it or mail it and your supportive documents to either your local Social Security office or your local Social Security Card Center.
The Social Security Administration cannot take any notarized copies or unofficial documents, such as a hospital or city birth certificate. You won’t lose the documents that you have to send in, however – anything you mail in to the SSA will be returned to you along with a receipt. Just plan ahead if that means you need to mail in your driver’s license!
Then It’s Time To Protect Your Identity!
Now that you’ve completed the process to get your card replaced, you need to begin the process of monitoring your identity to make sure that no one plans to compromise it. The easiest method is to simply sign up for a credit monitoring service. There are free ones that can take away most of the pressure of remembering to take care of monitoring your identification items on your own and low cost ones that can monitor virtually everything.
If you’re more the “hands on” type of person, then there are plenty of resources available to you as well. The first thing you should do is request your free credit report from your preferred credit reporting agency. Though you can request one from each agency at the same time, you’re better off ordering one report from one agency every 4 months because you’re limited by Federal law to 1 report per agency every 12 months. Some states also offer free reports, however, so be sure to take advantage of all the free reports you can get because the more you can monitor, the more you can prevent something bad from happening!
You’ll also want to consider putting on a fraud alert or a credit freeze. These can help you to be able to prevent an identity thief from ruining your credit because you’re alerting lenders that someone has potentially compromised your identity or even completely locking lenders and yourself out of your credit report.
Finally, you’ll also want to alert your financial institutions about what has happened so that suspicious activities, such as requests for new accounts or the closure of any long standing accounts, have another level of verification beyond a fraud alert.
Losing your Social Security card can be scary, but the recovery process doesn’t have to be when you follow these step by step instructions! By taking these steps, you can successfully get your Social Security card replaced and eliminate the threat of identity theft. It only happens, however, when you take proactive steps to make sure these tasks happen. There’s rarely a need for you to carry your social security card on your person, so lock it up in a safe place at home, in the event you happen to lose your wallet again in the future.
Mike Carter writes about consumer credit for SIF. He has been a speaker at Financial Freedom Summit in California. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, MarketWatch, USA Today and MSN Money, and on the Associated Press wire. At one point he held a perfect 850 credit score and he is a serial mortgage refinancer.