How to Prevent Identity Theft: Your Social Security Number
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How can I prevent identity theft when using my Social Security number?
Your Social Security number is a prime target of identity thieves and can be manipulated for quite a long time before you realize that your identity has been compromised. Identity theft prevention starts with knowing the facts about how to keep your Social Security number safe. Here are some steps to prevent identity theft:
- Your Social Security number should never be given over the Internet or phone unless you initiated contact and have already established a trusting relationship with the entity. If a government agency requests your number, be sure you are dealing with the legitimate agency and inquire about a privacy act notice. Trust your instincts and contact a consumer protection agency or an identity protection company if you have doubts.
- Always use a secure site when giving your Social Security number or any other personal information over the Internet.
- Never respond to a request to provide your Social Security number or any other personal information for the purpose of winning a prize or receiving free services. This is called phishing, and it's a widely used scam that has cost consumers millions of dollars across the globe.
- Only provide your Social Security number to a prospective employer during an interview or background check. Do not provide it on a job application.
- If you are unsure how to avoid identity theft when you use your Social Security number, contact the Social Security Administration or a reputable identity protection agency for tips on preventing identity theft.
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