your Social Security number|
According to the Consumers Union,
it takes consumers an average of 300 to 500 hours to fix their credit. So, consumers
should take steps to safeguard their private information. Here are some recommendations
from the Social Security Administration:
Keep your Social Security card at home. Don't carry
it with you unless absolutely necessary.Don't carry your
passport, birth certificate or other valuable personal documents unless absolutely
Keep your personal and financial documents, including
the ones mentioned above, in a safe place. You might use a fireproof
box at home or a safety-deposit box at your bank.
Make sure your Social Security number isn't used
as your employee or student identification number and that it isn't
printed on any other identification, such as your driver's license.
put your Social Security number on your checks.
your Social Security number, date of birth or other identifying numbers as your
Don't give out your number to people or
companies you don't know. Before you give out your personal information, ask why
it is needed and how it will be used.
Experts also suggest
you take the following steps to lessen your chances of becoming a victim:
Cancel any credit cards you don't use.
- Don't share your
SSN when it isn't necessary. (For purchases and business transactions other than
banking, trading stock or buying property, it isn't necessary.)
your name from mailing lists. By calling (888) 5OPT-OUT, you can get your name
off the marketing lists of the three primary credit bureaus. (This will, in turn,
decrease the number of pre-approved credit offers you receive.)
- Request a copy of your Social Security Personal
Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement at least every three years
to make sure the information in your file is correct. (You can
do this online through the SSA
- Be aware
of what's on your credit report. Pull your credit report once or twice a year to be sure
it's correct. You can get one report from each of the three major credit bureaus eacy year for free.
- If your bank uses your SSN as a personal identification
number, or PIN, or as the identifier for banking by phone, write
or call to request a different number. If you use the last four
digits of your Social Security number as your PIN for your ATM,
automated teller machine, change it to something less predicable
(not your birth date!).
- If your state's department of motor vehicles
uses SSNs as driver's license numbers, ask for an alternate number.
Most will cooperate.