We say all the time that your credit score is the most important number in your life, but your Social Security Number is actually more important. This is the number that identifies who you are, and it is tied to your finances in every way possible. When you don’t protect this number, your entire life could very likely be turned upside down right under your own nose. Take me, for example; I opened the mail just today to find a rejection letter from a credit card company. Confused, I read through the letter to find that someone attempted to open a new card with a bank in my name; and I was declined. Why? Because the credit bureau has me listed as deceased.
I was stunned and shocked, to say the least. I spent the better part of the day on the phone trying to fix this, trying to obtain copies of my credit report (not easy when you’re deceased) and trying to figure out how to fix this. Long story short; I have a long road ahead of me with trips to the SSA, letters to write, documents that require signatures and a very long list of phone calls to make. That’s why it’s important you keep your SSN safe and secured; and here are a few tips.
Never Give it Over the Phone
If someone asks for your SSN over the phone, don’t give it. If it’s someone you know needs it, make sure you are at least in a private room when you pass it on. There is nothing more dangerous than rattling off your SSN to someone on the phone when you are standing in the middle of Starbucks waiting on a latte.
Don’t Carry Your Card
Here’s a thought; remember the number. Don’t carry your card, or your children’s cards with you. In fact, keep it somewhere that is not even in your home. You don’t want a contractor, housekeeper or even a babysitter finding it in your desk (hopefully yours would never do such a thing!) and using it to open some credit.
Shred Your Documents
Sometimes all you need is the last four digits of your number to open an account, or maybe that’s what’s on the paperwork that came through the mail. It’s not enough to open credit, but it’s more than anyone else needs to have in their hands. Shred any documents with your personal information on them as quickly as possible.
Photo by Getty Images