Over the past few years, victims of identity theft have spent a considerable amount of their working years trying to pay back debts or fighting tooth and nail in order to restore their credit score as well as their name and reputation. Finding out one is a victim of identity theft can really be overwhelming, scary and a source of anxiety even after the case might have been cleared and resolved.
Please don't be complacent, do whatever you can to learn about identity theft and what you can do to lessen your chances of becoming another identity theft victim. These strategies can help protect your social security number from identity theft:
1. Make it an active policy of not sharing your social security number except you are convinced otherwise and that it is very important to release it or it is to your own profit. If the individual requesting for it stresses how important it is for you to make it available, simply inquire from him/her why it is needed. Request for proofs to back up his/her reason.
2. Don’t ever print your SSN on any of your personal documents such as; cheques, address labels, business cards, or any other type of identifying information. Also, don’t ever carry your SSN card in your purse, or any other card for that matter containing SSN. You can’t ignore the fact that your purse could be stolen or lost.
3. Try as much as possible to always resist local merchant’s requests to write your social security number onto your cheques. Inform him/her on how you could be a victim of identity theft if your social security number and account number was to get into the wrong hands, it could be used to gain access to your bank or credit accounts, or perhaps to open a new account in your name.
4. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for issuing and mailing Social Security Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statements to its respective owner. So, please, pay attention to this document. Verify that the information indicated in the file checks out so your certain is correct. And if you don’t get it or don’t know how to get one, then just contact the SSA to verify how to get this free report. And, in case the information recorded is not completely correct either in part or in full, contact the SSA immediately. Someone may be fraudulently using your SSN for employment purposes, so, please, don’t take it lightly.
5. Make it a point of duty to always request a copy of your credit report periodically, either monthly, quarterly, every six months or annually. And If, there is the slightest chance that, you are a victim of identity fraud, the credit report will quickly reveal any evidence of credit or banking fraud committed using your SSN and name and then you can immediately stop it before it gets too far. The report might even also show other SSNs tied or associated with your name.
6. If any company or business especially private corporations requests your SSN, just leave the space for the SSN on the form blank or write “refused” or N/A. Then, the next cause of action would be to speak to someone in authority from the firm or write to the business and explain why you do not want your SSN released or displayed on the form for prevention of identity fraud. However, if you do not receive satisfaction from the first person you contact, approach another person in the organization with higher clearance or authority. You can also request for a good reason why your social security number is requested, and if the company insists on having your SSN without any ample reason, please, tell them that you will be taking your business elsewhere. And please, make good on that promise, if the company still persists. Know that you have right to your privacy and show that right.
7. In some cases where you find your employer releasing or displaying your social security number, please object to this act, you have every right to object. Most private bodies don’t see SSNs as private information, so it’s your job and duty to let them know the implication of their actions. They may even be willing to change their policy once they understand the twin danger of invasion of privacy and fraud.
8. If by any chance or some reason your financial institution or any other financial service provider decides to settle with your SSN as your personal identification number (PIN) or as an identifier for your transactions online, banking by phone or internet. Write a letter of complaint to them, demanding that they assign a different PIN or identifier for your online banking and others payments.
9. Also, If by chance, the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state assigns your SSN to you as your driver’s license number. Please, refuse it and ask for an alternate number. Note that today, the federal law requires state Motor Vehicles departments to use a number other than the SSN for the driver’s license number.