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   Protect Your Social Security Number
Magic numbers used to be for lucky lottery winners and experienced hackers only. Cracking the code was a challenge reserved for the criminally elite. Now, though, in an era of passwords and Personal Identification Numbers, it doesn't take much to crack the code and open the proverbial vault. Thieves can hit the jackpot by stumbling upon your credit card number-which is why most of us are now taking greater precautions with our credit card information.

But have you considered that your social security number could also be a magic code for identity crooks? This nine-digit code gives thieves access to your medical, financial, credit, and educational records. If thieves have your name and social security number, they can apply for credit cards in your name, open bank accounts, even apply for jobs. And you will be left to deal with the consequences. There are no legal restrictions on private company use of Social Security numbers, and many states still use your SSN for your driver's license number. You've learned that being careless with your credit cards could cost you, but how can you protect yourself and your social security number?

How You Can Protect Your Social Security Number

  • Don't print your Social Security number on your checks or give it out unless absolutely necessary.
  • Ask creditors and merchants if you can substitute a special password or code to use instead of your Social Security number.
  • Order your Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement annually to check for fraud by calling 1 (800) 772-1213.
Related Links
Identity Fraud Alert: Personal Home Pages Can Invite Identity Theft
Federal Law Protects Your Identity
What Can I Do To Resolve An Identity Fraud Situation?

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