Your Social Security number (SSN) is a popular number. At doctors’ offices, credit card issuers, banks, utility companies and many other merchants you do business with, it’s the go-to identification method.
Unfortunately, it’s also prized personal information that unscrupulous individuals can use to commit identity theft and robbery.
Identity thieves can use your birth date and SSN to:
- Create fraudulent accounts and take out fraudulent loans, including a mortgage
- File a fraudulent tax return in your name and claim your tax refund
- Open fraudulent credit cards
- Fraudulently obtain official documents like passports or driver’s licenses
- Hide from law enforcement, commit immigration fraud or work illegally
The more frequently your Social Security number is shared, the more likely it is to be exposed to identity theft, disgruntled employees, computer hackers and others who seek to misuse and profit from it. This can have severe consequences on your credit, reputation and personal finances, and it can be costly and time-consuming to correct.
Prevention, in other words, is the best medicine. Read on for what you need to know.