The Insecurity of Your Social Security Number – Just How to Shield Yourself From Identification Theft

When Cmdr. Gloria Christensen retired from the Navy at full impairment due to a service-related head injury 10 years ago, she thought the worst mored than as she began to return to some normalcy of life. Without family members nearby, she requested – as well as was provided – a custodian accredited by the VA, to help her handle her monetary affairs as she recovered.

Currently, a years later, she has discovered a bitter lesson that she desires various other professionals to recognize: Someone can do incredible – in some cases incurable – damages to you, just by having accessibility to your social safety number.

You see, while Christensen proceeded her recovery, suffered monetarily by allocations from her tax-free special needs payments provided by her custodian, she never ever fantasized that same custodian was using Christensen’s Social Security number to deal stocks on the net– racking up sufficient profits that the IRS followed Christensen for over $200,000 in back tax obligations.

Now, after 9 months of wrangling with lawyers, government tax obligation experts and also her custodian that denied everything, Christensen is only $7000 poorer, sadder and better.


” Your Social Security number was never meant to be an universal number for all functions,” claims New Mexico State Representative Danice Picraux, who has presented regulations in Christensen’s home state to attempt to staunch the bleeding-out of her components’ resources through identification burglary. Her NM House Bill 905 – “Privacy Protection Act”– will make it illegal in her state for a business to need a client to provide his/her Social Security number as a problem of lease, purchase or arrangement of solution.

” There’s a stipulation in this regulation that if a current state or government legislation calls for that a number be provided, after that the individual can ask for it and also have it,” claims Picraux, “however in the future, when you most likely to your physician’s office, as well as they ask for your Social Security number, you don’t need to offer it and they still have to offer you.”

A 2nd stipulation in Picraux’s proposal would certainly forbid the printing of greater than the last five numbers of your credit card number on any invoice. “And no expiry dates on the receipts,” states Picraux. ” social security card replacement is supposed to be your own and also yours alone.”


Such legislation reflects a concern that approach urgency. The Federal Trade Commission’s yearly report regarding consumer complaint classifications in 2002 states that identity burglary topped the checklist of top 10 fraud issues, with 43 percent of the issues. The Department of Justice says that identity burglary impacts in between 500,000 and also 700,000 Americans-up 40 percent from just last year-hundreds of hundreds of individuals with a typical loss of $18,000 each.

As well as cleaning – if it can be achieved – is pricey and also time consuming. According to Frank Abagnale – the smart crook-turned-crime-consultant whose life was recently narrated in the flick, Catch Me If You Can– getting simply your debt record scrubbed of identification burglary can take approximately $1,173 and 175 man-hours. And since those man-hours most likely won’t be consecutive, Abagnale notes that “it can be months and even years to restore financial health,” during which time obtaining a task, obtaining loans and also housing, even writing look for energy costs and also grocery stores, can literally end up being a government case.

If you suspect or know you’ve been a sufferer of identity fraudulence, there are steps to take as well as no time to waste. However prevention is less costly, easier, and extra gratifying than cleaning.

People you don’t recognize and also will probably never ever satisfy are actively looking for credit report card receipts in public trash cans; as well as “dumpster divers” specialize in going through family and also business garbage. They can fill out an adjustment of address type with the message office to divert your mail to one more area while they spend on your credit cards. They can obtain your credit scores record by pretending to be a property owner or company.

And after that they can even file for insolvency under your name to avoid the financial debts they’ve racked up using your name!


Abagnale, Picraux, and also federal government firms have some suggestions in order to assist you maintain your reputation excellent and your exclusive info exclusive. One point they all stress: Be aggressive, as well as presume that somebody wants your private details. The most effective, most affordable means to secure on your own is to use a shredder (Abagnale encourages a crosscut shredder) on each and every single piece of mail you don’t mean to keep. Tear covers off catalogs as well as shred the covers, in addition to any kind of various other piece of mail which contains your name, address, account numbers or any type of other information. In particular, shred every bank card application you receive and also do not obtain; as well as when you reduced up ran out bank card, do not toss all the items away at the exact same time or in the exact same location.

A very easy method to keep in mind the essentials of securing on your own is with the acronym, SCARS: Sharing, Credit, Access, Recognition as well as SS #.

S is for Sharing: which is what happens when you’re on any kind of subscriber list. The fewer you’re on, the much more secure your personal information is. How to remain off them:

Get in touch with every banks where you work and inform them that you do not desire them to share any type of info regarding you without your written permission.

Inspect packages on any application you submit, defining that your details isn’t to be shared.

Get your name off subscriber list by writing the Mail Preference Service, PO Box 643, Carmel NY, 10512. Price is $5 for on the internet registration; anticipate to see results in regarding 3 months.

Get your phone number off telephone call lists by writing the Telephone Preference Service, PO Box 1559, Carmel NY 10512.

Be aware that supermarket and also other “constant customer” cards reveal your purchasing habits as well as other info you may not desire disseminated. Count the expense: is that discount worth it?

The information -your name, address, phone number – is virtually certain to be offered to online marketers. Enter a contest with a misspelling of your very first name or add a non-existent home number, and wait and see just how much junk mail you get dealt with that way.

C is for Credit. Below are some suggestions for protecting your credit scores score:

Check your credit history record at the very least once a year. Right here are the names and phone numbers of the three major credit report bureaus: Equifax (1-800-685-1111); Experian (1-888-397-3742), and also TransUnion (1-800-916-8800.) Anticipate to pay concerning $10 for each and every report – low-cost insurance.

If a credit card expense you’re anticipating does not show up in a timely manner, call the firm to figure out why – and have them inspect your mailing address to see if somebody has completed an adjustment of address kind without your approval.

Location passwords on your bank card, financial institution as well as phone accounts. Select a mix of letters and numbers that can not be presumed, as well as store any type of documents of the passwords safely.

Sign up for a service, such as Privacy Guard, that supplies you with the call info of each company that accesses your credit history report. Abagnale makes use of such a solution, stating, “I consider their yearly charge money well spent.”

Terminate all unrequested “pre-approved” credit cards.

When renewing credit cards, charge card, and also telephone cards, always ask for the protection code promptly.

” Don’t be shocked if you get an unanticipated phone call from a charge card firm inquiring about an unusual purchase or collection of acquisitions, even if you haven’t lost your card,” advises Picraux. “The business is just doing its job of securing its customers. Do not give out any kind of info if they don’t currently have your account number – a reputable caller will currently have that info.”

Never ever pay “up-front” for a loan or credit. The FTC warns, “Remember that reputable lenders never ‘guarantee’ a loan or bank card prior to you apply, specifically if you have poor credit rating, no debt, or a personal bankruptcy.”

Thoroughly look over charge card costs prior to paying them, as well as directly reconcile your own financial institution statements without delay upon receiving them.

A is for Access: as well as anyone-friend, enemy, family, or stranger – that has access to any of your personal documents has you at their grace.

Take every bank card as well as every other ID card in your wallet and also make a xerox of front as well as back (spread a number of out on the machine and also do them simultaneously.) Keep in a secured, protect place in your home or safe down payment box. In addition, do not lug any kind of charge card or ID cards with you that you don’t absolutely need – and also never ever take your Social Security card with you -maintain it secured as well.

Report taken or shed checks, credit cards, clinical cards, army ID cards, chauffeurs’ licenses, even library cards promptly.

Make absolutely sure in your home that empty checks, financial institution statements, account information as well as various other data are not obtainable to guests, domestic aid, tradesmen and repair individuals, as well as others. Take into consideration buying a lockbox with a tamper-proof lock for such papers. For even more see my site

A second stipulation in Picraux’s proposal would certainly restrict the printing of even more than the last five numbers of your debt card number on any kind of invoice. “Your credit score card information is meant to be your own and your own alone.”

In certain, shred every debt card application you receive and do not apply for; and also when you cut up expired credit rating cards, do not toss all the items away at the same time or in the very same place.

” Don’t be surprised if you receive an unexpected phone call from a credit rating card business asking concerning an unusual purchase or series of acquisitions, also if you haven’t lost your card,” recommends Picraux. In enhancement, do not carry any type of credit cards or ID cards with you that you do not absolutely need – as well as never ever take your Social Security card with you -maintain it secured up as well.

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