One of the biggest concerns when it comes to identity theft is keeping your Social Security number safe. Once a thief has your SSN, he can open new accounts, obtain a mortgage, get a new cell phone and apply for a job.
Identity thieves use all sorts of scams to try and trick you out of your Social Security number. But there are steps you can take to be sure your information is safe. Here are a few suggestions.
• If someone calls you and asks for your SSN, you are not legally bound to give out that information over the telephone. If you are unsure of the person on the other end of the call, don’t give out your SSN. If the caller persists, hang up, and verify the request with an official representative of the organization.
• If you are establishing a new account with a business you’ve never dealt with before, and the business requires your Social Security number, but can’t give you an explanation of how they will use and protect your SSN, remember that you have rights. There is no law that prevents businesses from requesting your SSN, and the business has a right to refuse service if you don’t provide it. Ask if there is an alternate form of identification you can provide, like your driver’s license.
If you have given your SSN to someone and you’re now worried that you may have fallen for a scam, contact the credit bureaus and watch your credit reports carefully for any fraudulent activity. If you find any bogus activity, report it immediately and close the accounts. You will need to file a police report and contact the Federal Trade Commission to report the incident as well at 1-877-438-4338 or go online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft.