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Can You Lock Your Social Security Number

Can You Lock Your Social Security Number

“It’s terrible from a security perspective,” says cyber privacy expert Alan Butler of Social Security numbers becoming a universal identifier.

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Social security numbers are important for getting a credit card, a home, and even a paycheck. They are probably the most important personal data we have.

It wasn’t what they were meant to be: Social Security numbers were first issued in the 1930s only as a way for the government to administer pension and disability benefits.

But since nearly every US citizen and permanent resident has a Social Security number, they’re now the primary authentication method for cell phone carriers, utility companies, and even retailers. This makes them prime targets for identity theft. The 2017 Equifax data breach may have exposed the Social Security numbers of nearly half of all Americans.

How do you know when you should and shouldn’t share your social network? We consulted with experts.

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For more information about Social Security, here’s how to order a new Social Security card and access your Social Security benefits online.

While it’s important to protect your Social Security number, there are legitimate reasons to share those nine digits.

“Any company you apply for a loan or line of credit needs your number,” Paige Hanson, NortonLifeLock’s head of cybersecurity education, said in an interview.

Can You Lock Your Social Security Number

Hanson, this includes banks and credit reporting agencies, but it can also mean a mobile service provider because a phone contract is like a line of credit.

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Your Social Security number will be mandatory for anything that triggers a tax return, including when your employer reports your wages to the IRS, said Alan Butler, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit organization focused on protecting privacy and identity rights.

If you have an investment advisor or are involved in a cash transaction of $10,000 or more, such as buying a car or home, you must share this.

Government agencies that provide benefits, including the US Department of Labor and state agencies that administer Medicaid, may also request your number. Those requests must come with a disclosure form explaining whether the number is on demand or voluntary, confirming the agency’s authority to request it, and explaining what it will be used for.

There are more cases where you don’t have to offer your Social Security number. With the proliferation of phishing schemes, never give out your information by email or phone.

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“If you’re not initiating the call, you should never share personal information,” NortonLifeLock’s Hanson said. “Even if it looks like it’s coming from a legitimate company you’re doing business with.”

Confirming the last four digits of your social network is less risky, Hanson said, because it’s information a company already has.

Not everyone who asks for your number has bad intentions: “Some businesses just want your code because it’s a faster way to look at your account,” Hanson added.

Can You Lock Your Social Security Number

If you sign a deal like a gym membership, others may want it. “It’s easier to go to a collection agency when you have to,” Hanson said. “But there are other ways.”

How To Freeze Your Social Security Number

While employers can ask for your Social Security, “it’s not absolutely required to get a job,” Hanson said. So it shouldn’t be in any job application.

If they won’t budge and you don’t feel comfortable giving them your personal information, don’t. “Every time another entity stores your Social Network, it’s another chance for identity theft,” Butler said.

If the company asks for your Social Security number, find out if there is an alternative form of identification you can use. Getty Images

When you’re an adult, your Social Security number is entered into so many databases that it’s impossible to keep it 100% secure. But there are steps consumers can take to better protect their account numbers.

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Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Store in a safe place at home. Shred documents or letters that contain your number instead of just throwing them away. Also, if they ask for your SSN, find out why.

“You have to feel empowered to ask: ‘Why do you need this?’ Where do you keep that?” Hanson said. “‘Is there any other information I can use instead?’

Hanson recently took her daughter to a doctor’s appointment, and the form at the counter asked for both of their SSNs.

Can You Lock Your Social Security Number

“They really didn’t need to,” Hanson said. “So I left it blank on the form and they didn’t say anything.”

Limiting Use Of Social Security Numbers Through Mail

Another way to protect your Social Security number is to “freeze” your credit reports with Transunion, Equifax, and Experian.

If someone tries to use your number to open a credit card or apply for a loan, your credit report request will be denied. You can freeze your report indefinitely or set a specific “thaw” date.

You should also check your reports regularly for any strange activity — a free copy of all three is available each year at — and set up an account with Social Security to see if someone is receiving benefits using your number.

If you think you have been a victim of identity theft using your Social Security number, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission, your local police department, and any business that may have been fraudulently issued your number.

Social Security Number

If you think your number has been used illegally to get a job or access a tax return, you can also contact the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 or visit the IRS identity theft website.

According to the FTC, while getting a new Social Security number is possible, it likely won’t solve all your problems.

“Sometimes getting a new number can make you worse off,” Steve Toporoff of the FTC’s Privacy and Privacy Division said in a statement, “because you have to contact all the government agencies, financial institutions, credit bureaus, health insurers and others. where an old Social Security number can be used.”Self-Lock is a unique feature that allows you to protect your identity and Self-Verify by placing a “lock” on your Social Security number (SSN). This prevents someone else from using your SSN for work. If an employer enters a locked SSN to verify your employment authorization, this will result in a Pre-Approval (mismatch). With Self Lock, you’re always in control – you can unlock your SSN at any time to allow a new employer to approve your work authorization. Your Self-Lock remains active as long as your account is valid and you unlock your SSN. The Self-Lock feature is only available to my account holders.

Can You Lock Your Social Security Number

Employment-related identity fraud can mean that someone else is working under your identity and using your SSN. If this happens, someone else’s wages may be reported to the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, and other authorities on your behalf. By using Self Lock, someone can prevent this scam if they start working for an employer. Even if you are not currently employed, you may want to protect your SSN and identity with Self Lock.

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To lock your SSN, you must select and answer three trivia questions. Choose questions that you can answer easily, because if you receive a Pre-Disconfirmation (mismatch) due to Self-Lockout, you will have to answer them again to verify your identity.

If you are about to start a new job with an employer, you must log in to your account and unlock your SSN. One of the most read advice columns on this site is the 2018 article Plant Your Flag, Mark Your Territory. Websites like the Social Security Administration, the IRS, and others have tried to impress upon readers the importance of creating an account before scammers do it for you. The basic concept here is that these services allow only one account per Social Security number—which is, for better or worse, the de facto national identifier in the United States. However, it was recently discovered that this is not the case with all federal government websites designed to help you manage your online identity.

A reader who recently fell victim to unemployment insurance fraud told her that she should create an account on the Department of Homeland Security’s myE-Verify website and lock her Social Security number (SSN) to minimize those chances. ID thieves may misuse his identity for future job fraud.

According to the website, approximately 600,000 employers at more than 1.9 million hiring locations use E-Verify to verify the employment eligibility of new hires. E-Verify’s consumer-facing myE-Verify portal allows users to track

Self Lock Helps Protect You From Employment Related Identity Fraud

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