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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection | article

Your Social Security Number: Tips to Help Protect Against Identity Theft

Your Social Security Number

When the government first began issuing Social Security numbers, it was a means for them to track your employment history, the earnings you have taken in over your lifetime and pay your well-deserved retirement benefits. However, over the past several decades, the Social Security number has become the key to an individual’s identity, as this information is needed to open up accounts, apply for lines of credit and even get a job. Therefore, should a thief get a hold of your name and Social Security number, they can use this information to open up these accounts in your name, run up significant debt and ultimately leave you to foot the bill. Remember these helpful tips to keep your Social Security number safe and protect your identity from possible identity theft.

Keep your Social Security card at home:  Your wallet already has enough valuable personal information on it that should it get lost or stolen by a thief, significant damage to your credit could ensue. But your Social Security number can open far more doors than the other documents, especially if a thief gets a hold of the card itself. Keep this on file in a safe place at home where it is not likely to be compromised by thieves.

Question anyone who asks you for this information:  Some government bodies, such as the DMV, welfare offices and tax agencies, can require you to use your Social Security number as a form of identification in order to conduct business. However, you may be asked by non-government bodies to provide this info, and in almost all cases you should be able to opt out. Rather than expose yourself further, be wary about who you share your Social Security number with and always ask if alternative identification is acceptable first.