There are few things more important than protecting your Social Security number — especially when there are people out there trying to lure you into providing it. And, make no mistake, they are very clever in attempting to elicit that information.
So here are a few rules to follow:
- Don't give your Social Security number to anyone over the phone no matter what the appeal, especially if you didn't initiate the call.
- Beware of anyone asking for that number by email. It may be an imposter posing as your bank or the government — and they don't request that information via email.
- Leave your Social Security card at home unless you need it and store it in a safe place.
- Shred documents that contain your Social Security number. You would be surprised how many people check your trash.
- When it's necessary to provide your number to a financial institution or insurance company, for example, make sure you know who is receiving it and how it will be used. Also ask why you must provide the number, how it will be used, stored and/or shared.
- It's a good idea to set up a "my Social Security account" at www.ssa.gov to review your earnings record and an estimate of your benefits. If you see inconsistencies, contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.
Social Security was first established 81 years ago in August 1935. For the most part, it has provided financial security for generations of Americans after the age of 65. It is the responsibility of each individual to make sure it is not stolen.