SOCIAL SECURITY By Chuck Stovall
When April 1 came, you may have been on guard to protect yourself from an April Fool’s Day prank. However, every day of the year, you should be wary of identity thieves.
Identity theft is no joking matter. Identity thieves victimize millions of people each year.
Identity thieves have some sly tricks to obtain your personal information. They do it by:
• Stealing wallets, purses, and your mail;
• Posing by phone or email as someone who legitimately needs information about you, such as employers or landlords;
• Stealing personal information you provide to an unsecured site on the Internet, from business or personnel records at work, and personal information in your home; or
• Rummaging through your trash, the trash of businesses and public trash dumps for personal data.
Don’t be fooled by identity thieves; take the proper precautions. Be sure to safeguard your personal information, such as your Social Security number and mother’s maiden name. If an identity thief scores this information, it could result in more than monetary loss for you as a victim—it also can hurt your credit score and record.
You can help protect yourself by not carrying your Social Security card with you and not providing your personal information to unknown sources over the Internet or by phone. Be sure to shred any documents, bills, or paperwork before you throw them away. Most important, never reply to an email claiming to be from Social Security that asks you for your Social Security number or other personal information. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from Social Security and you have doubts about the validity of the caller, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
If you think you’ve been the victim of identity theft, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261 or go to www.idtheft.gov and click on the link for “Report Identity Theft.”
Learn more about identity theft at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10064.html.
Please don’t let an identity thief make an April—or any kind of—fool out of you.
This article originally appeared in the May 29, 2013 print edition.
Category: Social Security