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Protecting Your Social Security Number

Don't leave a paper trail

Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Always shred documents with personal information. This includes bills, old credit cards, applications, junk mail, etc.
  • Don’t store personal data on your computer’s hard drive. In the event that a thief hacked your computer they would have access to this information.
  • Never give out personal information or account numbers in emails. Do not respond to unsolicited emails. It’s better to delete spam emails then to open them to unsubscribe.
  • Never give out personal or account information in response to unsolicited phone calls. Your financial institution should never call you asking for your account number. If you receive a phone call and question that person’s employment, ask if you can call them back then call the company’s main number and ask to speak to that person.
  • Do not download free music or videos – it may come with programs that allow thieves to snoop on your computer.
  • Check your credit report at least annually. Report any errors immediately.
  • Check your financial statements as soon as you receive them.
  • By law some businesses need your SSN for certain purposes. The Social Security Administration website gives a partial list of situations where you may be asked to provide your SSN. If a company ask for your SSN, ask why they need your number, what happens if you don’t give it and would they accept another form of identification.
  • Don’t carry your SSN in your wallet. Leave it in a secured place unless you absolutely need it that day.

Quick Tip: Don't sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED." However, you may run into some people who demand that the card be signed or they will not accept it – so you may want to do both to avoid such situations.