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.