Very few things in life can create a higher degree of stress than having your Social Security Number (SSN) stolen. This is because, unlike other forms of ID, your SSN is virtually permanent.
While most instances of SSN theft are outside your control, there are some things that you can do to minimize the risk of this ever happening to you.
Challenge all other requests. Many other vendors may ask for your SSN but having it may not be essential. The most common requests come from health care providers and insurance companies, but requests can also come from subscription services when setting up a new account. When asked on a form for your number, leave it blank. If your supplier really needs it, they will ask you for it. This allows you to challenge their request.
Destroy and distort documents. Shred any documents that have your number listed. When providing copies of your tax return to anyone, distort or cover your SSN. Remember, your number is printed on the top of each page of Form 1040. If the government requests your SSN on a check payment, only place the last four digits on the check, and replace the first five digits with Xs.
Proactively check for use. Periodically check your credit reports for potential use of your SSN. If suspicious activity is found, have the credit agencies place a fraud alert on your account. Remember, everyone is entitled to a free credit report once a year. You can obtain yours on the Annual Credit Report website.
Replacing a stolen SSN is not only a hassle, it can create many problems. Your best defense is to stop the theft before it happens. Contact us for any questions on how to help protect your personal information.