Your social security number are the keys to your personal kingdom and it should be kept safe at all times. In this new digital age, social security theft has been on the rise and is one of the fasting growing crimes here in America. Someone who gets a hold of your social security number can use it to gain a number of personal information about you. Identity thieves can use your information to apply for new credit cards, credit lines, and loans and use them without paying them. If this does happen the responsibility lies on you. It can be a very hectic situation to deal with an identity theft, and sometimes by the time you figure out that someone has stolen your identity it may be too late to catch them
There are many things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft.
- Keep track of your mail - Certain documentation that is mailed to you can contain personal information including your social security number and account numbers that should stay private. Never let mail sit in your mailbox. If you plan to be away for an extended amount of time you can have the post office hold it or you can have a trusted friend pick it up.
- Make sure important documents are secure - Documentation such as your passport, social security card, birth certificates and other documents are common items that thieves seek out. If these people aren't using these things directly, they could be selling them for a good amount of money (ultimately your money).
- Don’t use your social security number as an ID number – Many institutions and companies, such as colleges and employers, use social security numbers as an identification number, but that is not a smart move. Be aware of those companies who do use this method and inform them that you do not wish your social security number to be used. You are also not required to list your social security number when applying for a job. Just let your potential employer know that you will give them the number if hired.
- Ask questions about identity theft – Ask your bank and credit card companies about what they do to fight identity theft. It is a good idea to understand what their procedure is if something does happen and if you would be held liable for any charges.
- Phishing scams are more common than you think – Phishing scams are usually brought on through email or online chat type services. They act as though they are a well-known company such as your bank and have fake websites set up that mimic the real thing to try to steal your login info. Once they get your login info they can access your bank account.
- Shred anything with identifying information on it – Properly disposing of documents with your personal information on them should be something that you do on a regular basis. Simply tossing old bills and bank statements in the trash can leave you open for identity theft.
- Be careful where you shop online – Choose the stores you decide to shop online with carefully. Shopping online is safe, but it is smart to know who you’re buying from. Also make sure the URL hosts a “https” in the menu bar shows that your information is encrypted and helps to protect against anyone stealing important information. (the “s” at the end indicates that it is secure)
These are some simple steps that will allow you to protect your identity and keep yourself from having to deal with the consequences of a stolen identity. You can find more information by visiting http://www.socialsecurity.gov.
By the way, eventually you are going to rely on the Social Security system in the event of retirement or disability. It is almost routine to be turned down several times for your claim. Should you need a social security and disability lawyer in Orange County, the law offices of Kenneth G. Marks has decades of experience helping regular people just like you.