Your Social Security number is one of the most important pieces of your personal information. It’s used to track your credit history, tax records, and more.
Unfortunately, it’s also a prime target for fraudsters. However, there are a few simple steps you can take to help protect your Social Security number from fraud.
How to Keep Your Social Security Number Safe
Be sure to practice the following tips to keep your information safe:
- Don’t carry your Social Security card with you. This may seem like common sense, but many people still carry their card around in their wallet or purse. If your wallet or purse is ever lost or stolen, this gives thieves direct access to your Social Security number.
- Keep your Social Security number confidential. Only give it out when absolutely necessary and be sure to only deal with reputable companies. When possible, use other forms of identification such as your driver’s license number instead.
- Protect your personal information online. Be cautious about what information you share on social media and other websites. Fraudsters can use this information to guess your Social Security number.
- Check your credit report regularly. This can help you spot any suspicious activity associated with your Social Security number. You’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every year.
- Report any suspicious activity immediately. If you believe your Social Security number has been compromised, contact the Social Security Administration and file a police report.
Signs of a Social Security Number Scam
There are a few red flags that can indicate a scammer is trying to get your Social Security number. Be on the lookout for:
- Someone asking for your Social Security number without a good reason
- A job application that requires you to give your Social Security number upfront
- Emails or calls from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration asking for personal information
If you ever suspect you’re being scammed, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Social Security Administration or the Federal Trade Commission for assistance.
When to Provide Your Social Security Number
In general, you should only ever give out your Social Security number when absolutely necessary. There are a few specific situations when it may be required, such as:
- Applying for credit
- Filing taxes
- Applying for government benefits
- Accepting a job offer
You may sometimes be asked to provide your Social Security number at doctor’s offices or when signing up for utility services. However, you are usually not required to provide it in these situations and can ask to use another form of identification instead.
If you’re ever unsure about whether or not to give out your Social Security number, err on the side of caution and ask the person requesting the information why they need it and how it will be used.
Remember that your Social Security number is an important piece of your personal information and should always be treated as such. By keeping these tips and tidbits in mind, you can help protect your Social Security number from fraudsters.