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5 Tips To Protect Your Social Security Number

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Your Social Security Number (SSN) is an extremely valuable piece of personal information. It is unique to you, and with it identity thieves can commit multiple crimes in your name, including tax and credit card fraud. Follow the 5 tips below to help you protect your SSN and your identity as a whole.

1. NEVER Carry Your Social Security Card

Carrying your social security card with you is the easiest way to get your SSN stolen or compromised. Most people already carry some form of state issued ID in their wallets or purses, so if you were to lose your entire wallet (including your SSN card), someone would have all the necessary information to successfully steal your identity.

2. Create a mySocialSecurity Account

A mySocialSecurity account allows you to see all things associated with your Social Security number. You can view and manage benefits you may be eligible for; order a new card in the event that you lose yours; and, you can also see all earnings that have been associated with your SSN to verify that the information is accurate.

3. Never Send Your Social Security Number Electronically

Most reputable institutions will not ask you to send your full Social Security number electronically (i.e. email, text message, etc.), but if they do, it is imperative that you refuse. Not only is this an electronic documentation of your information, but it also leaves your SSN vulnerable.  Hackers may gain access to your information through the same WiFi network you are using, or if you or the recipient’s email gets hacked at a later date.

4. Guard Your Final Four

The last 4 digits of your SSN are completely random and specific to you, therefore they’re most important. The first 5 digits are assigned based on where and when you were born. It is easy for identity thieves to learn the first 5 digits of your SSN based on your birthdate and birth city, so if a thief also gains access to your last 4 digits they could easily learn the entire 9-digit string.

5.  Avoid Providing Your SSN When Asked

There are only a few agencies that require your SSN in order to obtain services from (i.e. employers, financial institutions, medical insurance providers, etc.). If someone outside of these essential services asks for your SSN, you should not provide it to them.

5 Tips To Avoid Tax Fraud

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You may already be aware that identity theft is the fastest growing crime – occurring once every 3 seconds. However, what you may not know is that over 26% of identity thieves are aiming to use your personal information to commit tax fraud. Please follow the tips below to help ensure that you avoid being scammed and receive your rightfully earned tax refund.

1. File Early

Scammers that are looking to commit tax fraud are hoping that you delay filing your taxes, so that they can file a fraudulent tax return in your name and collect your refund before you are even aware that it is happening. With that being said, not only will filing your taxes early guarantee you a faster tax return, but it will decrease the likelihood of someone committing tax fraud with your name.

2. Protect Your Social Security Number

Most tax-return identity theft cases involve a stolen Social Security Number (SSN). With your social security number, identity thieves can file fraudulent tax returns and collect your refund. In order to avoid this happening, it is best not to carry your Social Security Card with you, but rather to store it somewhere securely. You also should ensure that you never send your SSN through email, and only provide it to people when ABSOLUTELY necessary.

3. Beware of Phishing

Phishing is when online scammers impersonate reputable businesses in order to receive personal identifying information such as your SSN, DL #, address, etc. A popular scam has been hackers sending emails pretending to be IRS in order to receive your personal identifying information. Beware of these emails and remember that the IRS, your bank, or any other reputable businesses will never ask for financial or personal information through email.

4. Shred Your Bank and Tax Documents

Tax documents, bank statements, W-2’s, and any other information that goes into filing your taxes is very sensitive information, and must be protected at all costs. People who are looking to commit identity theft and tax fraud are not above digging through your trash to acquire these sensitive documents, so in order to be safe it is best to shred all of these documents when you are done with them.

5. Protect Your Mailbox

Bank statements, W-2s and pay stubs are all pieces of mail that can be used against you to commit identity theft. Some scammers will take advantage of you by simply sifting through your mailbox to see what they can get their hands on. To ensure this doesn’t happen, it is best to consider using a PO box to ensure that no one can access your mail other than you. If this isn’t an option for you, you should change your account preferences to sensitive bank and tax info to receive them electronically.