The odds are better that your Social Security number has been hacked than the odds it hasn’t. By one estimate, identity thieves have gotten hold of up to 80% of active Social Security numbers.
It’s an epidemic that has lawmakers in Washington scrambling to fix. But what can you do about it? Financial planner and teacher, Rob West talks about this disturbing trend and ways you can safeguard your finances.
Interesting points about Social Security Number compromises:
- 80% of Social Security numbers out there on the black market.
- 165-million SSN’s were stolen at one time in the recent data breaches at the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management and the credit reporting agency Equifax.
- With all that has already been compromised, thieves are still going after even more with robo calls like this: "Hello, this is the Social Security Administration. Your Social Security number is suspended due to some reason. Call us back at 254-863-8099..."
- The Social Security Administration is in the process of sending out new Medicare benefit cards that do not contain one’s SSN and scammers are picking up on this and telling people they need their SSN in order to send out the new card.
- The SSN was never meant to be an all-purpose identifier; it even states this on some SS cards.
What we can do to protect our SSN and our financial identity:
- Never give out your SSN or any private information over the phone or in email when you have been contacted first.
- The Social Security Administration will never ask you for your SSN because they already have it.
- Stop giving your SSN out when you fill out a form somewhere unless it’s for an employer or a financial institution that needs it to generate a 10-99 form for tax purposes.
- If you’re concerned about id theft, sign up for identity theft protection for around 15-dollars a month.
- Never transmit sensitive financial information via public WiFI.
- Go to all three credit reporting agencies and freeze your credit.
- Regularly monitor your credit report.
- Use anti-virus/spyware software on your computer or mobile device and keep it updated.
Next, Rob and Steve tackle listener questions at 800-525-7000 and via email to Questions@MoneyWiseLive.org on these topics:
- Should you have to give the probate court your Social Security number or can you refuse?
- If you have a 25 year old son on your insurance costing $300/month that never goes to the doctor, would he be a good candidate to use Christian Health Cost Sharing Administration? chministies.org
- If you're not quite retirement age and considering buying first home, is it a good idea to tap into the $130,000 you have in your 401(k) for a down payment?
- If you're 19 years old and about to attend college, how should you use $14000 that you've saved so far?
- Is it a biblical idea that we should plan for retirement?
- Since collection of sales taxes is now being required for all states, how should you handle taxes paid to you through a marketplace like etsy.com?
- How do you freeze your credit report and what are the implications of doing so?
- If you're single, 71 and debt free, should you consider putting some extra monthly money into gold, stock or bitcoins? smi.org
- At age 56 and having been on disability for the last 10 years, will the disability payments affect your Social Security payments on retirement?
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