Why It is Important to Protect Your Social Secuity Card and Number
Originally, the Social Security number (SSN) was not meant to be a universal identifier. However, through the years, its significance has changed and, at present, it now seems to be used as one of the main universal identifiers (at least in the United States).
Thus, having a SSN and a card has become increasingly important to many people. You usually need a SSN to apply for a bank account or a driver’s license. Many times, you also need to give your SSN when visiting a doctor. Unfortunately, your SSN has also become a means by which you can become a victim of identity theft.
Herein lies the importance of SSN card protection. You need to ensure that your SSN, along with other important personal information, is kept as secure as possible.
Since some people underestimate the importance of protecting their SSN cards and numbers, let’s look at a news report that should be able to emphasize the need for social security card protection.
Tech News Daily, a technology news and information website, reported that on October 10, 2012, cyber-hackers were able to breach an official website, which resulted in the theft of “3.6 million Social Security numbers and the details for 387,000 credit and debit cards.”
Meanwhile, an older news report states that the security of another agency’s 1,500 computers was breached, “resulting in the exposure of names, Social Security numbers, and email and home addresses of as many as 210,000 people.”
Obviously, we shouldn’t take reports like these lightly. Don’t wait for your own SSN to be lost or stolen before you do — you may live to regret it later on. Remember, identity theft usually happens when thieves gain access to your personal information, for example: your name or SSN, and use them to commit fraud or other crimes.
Here are some ways by which identity thieves can do so:
- Documents or receipts found in the trash
- Stolen credit cards
- Email or phone scams
- Hacking unsecured wireless networks
Once these thieves are able to access your personal information, they can buy items using your credit card, or file counterfeit tax returns in your name.
Thus, keeping your SSN and other important personal information private and secure is vital. Here are some things you can do:
- Treat your SSN as confidential information — don’t give it out unnecessarily.
- Keep your Social Security card in a safe place — don’t carry it with you, unless you need to show it to an employer or service provider. Even then, be very careful about who you give your SSN to.
- If you feel that you really need to carry a health insurance card that includes your SSN with you wherever you go, make a copy of the original card and then blacken out or cut out the last four digits of the SSN on the copy.
- Remember that giving your SSN is voluntary, even when you are asked for it. In instances where you are requested to do so, you have the right to ask:
- The reason for asking your number
- In what specific manner will your number be used
- What are the consequences of your refusing to give your SSN
- What law states that you need to give your number
- Instead of giving your SSN, ask if you can give an alternative identifier, e.g. your driver’s license number.
- Don’t print or write your SSN on your checks, business cards, address labels or other identifying formation.
If you lose your Social Security card or it gets stolen, you may have it replaced for free. You need to take note though that each person is entitled to three replacement cards in one year and 10 during one’s lifetime.
Do you feel that it’s important to protect your SSN and card? What tips above did you find helpful? Please feel free to leave your comments.
Amy is an active blogger who is fond of sharing interesting finance related articles to encourage people to manage and protect their finances. She also covers topics on steps to report a lost social security card and prevent financial id theft through your lost cards.