Every guy wants the most beautiful girl in the room’s number. In the same way, thieves want your Social Security number. Even though men might ask, most women don’t feel obligated to give out their phone number to a stranger, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to give out your Social Security number to everyone who asks either.
If your number is compromised someone could ruin your credit score by opening accounts in your name. You might even have to wave goodbye to purchasing that new house.
Don’t worry, because we’ve got you covered; here are a few ways you can protect your identity.
Delete Any Social Security Confirmation Emails
Congratulations, one more email deleted from your inbox and bonus, no one is stealing your identity. This common phishing method begins with an email or call from a company stating they need you to confirm your account information for your personal bank account or credit card. Don’t even think about clicking on the link to confirm your information because your bank would never ask you to confirm such sensitive information via email or phone. If you want to take action, you can always report fraudulent activity to the Federal Trade Commission by forwarding your email to email@example.com.
Always Ask Why Someone Wants Your Number
Sometimes a company might ask for you number; for example, if you are installing a home security system with a two-year contract they will need to run a credit check to see if you meet their requirements. Before you give out your number ask questions to understand their reasoning for needing this sensitive information. If they put your mind at ease and you agree with their answer then go ahead and follow their policy.
Another, more convincing group may ask for your number- family. Be cautious because there are few legitimate reasons they would need your number. One case in which you can give your number out, is if a family member is claiming you as a beneficiary on his or her life insurance policy.
Skip It Altogether
There may be an alternative to giving your social security number to a customer service rep to confirm your identity. This is used often because it is one of the fastest ways to confirm your identity, but there may be another way to find your account, or even just giving them the last four digits of you SSN. Just ask.
Let Me Whisper Something In Your Ear
When you are asked for your social security number to confirm your identity if you are at the bank remember to be aware of your surroundings. Be cautious of saying your number out loud. There could be a key pad you can type your number in, if not ask the teller for a scratch paper to write it on and then shred the paper when your done.
Wait… Don’t Skip It All
Take matters into your own hands by getting a credit report annually. With every precaution that users can take there is still a chance your information can be hacked. The information you give an organization can be found if their computer system is compromised. Don’t worry; there are many free, trusted sites that perform credit reports without hurting your credit score.
Don’t let someone steal your identity just because you fell for a phishing trick. Once you incorporate these best practices for sharing sensitive information you can rest assured that you are taking every measure to procure your identity.
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Kenneth G. Marks has been practicing personal injury law since he was admitted to the California Bar in 1981.