Saturday, November 20, 2010

Someone Is After Your Social Security Number

An old Social Security card with the "NOT...Image via Wikipedia

 I went over to see the doctor this week for my yearly physical. Everything checked out fine but I had to go to a lab to get some blood work done. It was a different one from the one I usually went to. They gave me the forms to fill out which indicate all my particulars. There was a line on the form for my social security number. As a rule I never put down my number. I never get a problem from the doctors office. But I think how many people just put it down without thinking. For years, I never put it on any application or information records.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the Open Security Foundation 32% of identity theft occurs from the improper safe keeping of records. The theft of social security numbers occurs when the identity thief goes through discarded files in dumpsters, inside an organizations’ file cabinets, in any of the hundreds of databases maintained by government, corporate, and educational institutions, or even in public records, which are freely accessible on the Internet. 

The Identity Theft Resource Center has listed the top riskiest places for identity theft, through mishandled social security numbers.

The top 10 most dangerous places to give out your Social Security number are:

  • Universities/Colleges
  • Banking/Financial Institutions
  • Hospitals
  • State Governments
  • Local Governments
  • Federal Governments
  • Medical Businesses (Please note: These are businesses that concentrate on services and products for the medical field such as distributors of diabetes or dialysis supplies, medical billing services, pharmaceutical companies, etc.)
  • Non-Profit Organizations
  • Technology Companies
  • Medical Insurance and Medical Offices/Clinics
This list indicates almost everywhere people do any kind of transactions. Meaning your vulnerable anywhere.

Over the last 70 years the social security has become our national I.D. It was initially intended to be a way for the social security administration to keep track of income for future retirement payments. But over the years it has become used for so much more. Now it's required for all forms of credit. Are credit score and history is indexed by it. 

According to the Social Security Administration the only use of the number they care about is in the official statute:

A federal law, 42 USC Chapter 7, Subchapter IV, Part D, Sec. 666(a)(13), enacted in 1996, determines when the numbers should be used. The law requires Social Security numbers to be recorded for “any applicant for a professional license, driver’s license, occupational license, recreational license or marriage license.” It can be used and recorded by creditors, the Department of Motor Vehicles, whenever a cash transaction exceeds $10,000, and in military matters.
It's up to you to protect your social security number and identity details.

Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Check your credit report. At least once per year run your credit report for errors and if any found, dispute them as soon as possible.
2. Refuse to provide your Social Security number. Do not give your number unless absolutely necessary and then still argue the need for it.
3. Invest in an identity protection service. Get a good I.D. protection service to keep an eye out for trouble. Or just freeze your credit bureau at all three services.
4. Securely dispose of mail. Invest in a paper shredder and put all mail through it.
5. Opt out of junk mail and preapproved credit card offers.
6. Lock down your PC. Get a good security software to protect your computer.


2 comments:

  1. I still put down my Social Security Number..... Is it too late to stop? So far, no known problems... (fingers crossed)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lisa, I've never had a problem. It's just not necessary on some applications. I give mine out only when madatory. Thanks for stopping by.

    ReplyDelete

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