Identity theft is a growing problem in this country. In fact, someone became a victim in less time than it probably took you to read this sentence. Statistics show there is a new case of identity theft every two seconds in the United States. One of the best ways to prevent yourself from becoming a victim is to protect your Social Security number.
According to the Social Security Administration, identity theft occurs when someone steals your personally identifiable information and pretends to be you. This often involves using your Social Security number. Once they have your personal information they can open up a bank account or credit card. They can even file taxes. That’s why it is super important that you safeguard you Social Security number.
Do not give your Social Security number to just anyone. However, there are times and places that you will be required to reveal that personal information, such as at a doctor’s office. Always ask why they need it, how it will be used, and what will happen if you refuse to give it.
Do not carry your Social Security card – or any other documents that may contain that number – with you. You want to keep these items in a safe and secure place. Do not keep them in your wallet or purse.
If you suspect someone has used your Social Security number and has created a credit problem for you, immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. Their website allows you to report the crime and provides detailed information on what you need to do to recover from identity theft. If you would prefer to talk to a representative, you can call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338) to report the suspected identity theft.
You should also contact the Federal Trade Commission if you think someone has used your Social Security number for work purposes. After you report the suspected fraud, a representative will review your earnings with you to ensure your records are accurate. You can easily verify your earnings yourself by reviewing your Social Security Statement on your my Social Security account. It’s also a good idea to contact the Internal Revenue Service if you suspect someone has used your Social Security number for work. You can also file an online complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
For more suggestions on how to protect you – and your Social Security number – from identity theft, check out this online brochure from the Social Security Administration.
In addition to protecting your Social Security number from identity theft, it’s important that we safeguard our nation’s Social Security program. The Seniors Trust is working to do exactly that through passage of the Social Security Expansion Act. Once passed, this landmark piece of legislation will increase monthly benefits, implement a fair Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), and legally guarantee the current and future benefits of all Social Security recipients. You can show your support for its mission by signing a petition calling on Congress to pass the Social Security Expansion Act.