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Protect Yourself from Identify Theft

Identity theft affects millions of people each year causing serious financial and identity-related issues. Protect yourself by securing your personal information, understanding the threat of identity theft, and exercising caution.

We have a list of 10 things you can start doing now to protect yourself and your loved ones.

  1. Don’t believe calls, emails, texts, letters, or any message, saying you need to immediately pay to resolve a problem, such as legal trouble with the government or a virus on your computer, or even to obtain a prize, like lottery or sweepstakes winnings. Legitimate businesses will not force you to make a payment over the phone as the only option, and do not require payment by prepaid debit card, gift card, Internet currency, or by mailing cash.

  2. Protect your Social Security number by keeping your card in a safe place at home. Don’t carry it around with you or provide your number unnecessarily.

  3. Be careful when speaking with unknown callers. Scammers may use legitimate phone numbers or the real names of officials to mislead you. If they threaten you or make you feel scared, hang up.

  4. Never give out your personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited call or message.

  5. Shred paper that contains personal information, such as your name, birth date, and Social Security number.

  6. Regularly check your financial accounts for suspicious transactions.

  7. Request and check a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

  8. Install and maintain strong anti-virus software on all your devices, including your smartphone, personal computer, and tablet. Don’t fall for tech support scams, including pop-up notifications (i.e., a message that automatically appears on your computer screen). If you need help fixing a problem on your computer, take it to someone you know and trust.

  9. Create and use strong passwords so others can’t easily access your accounts. Use different passwords for different accounts so if a hacker compromises one account, they can’t access other accounts.

  10. Never click on a link sent in an unsolicited email or text message—type in the web address yourself. Only provide information on secure websites.

We encourage you to create your own my Social Security account to verify your personal information and track your earnings record online.
Remember, SSA only sends text messages if you have opted in to receive texts from SSA and only in limited situations, including the following:

  • when you have subscribed with SSA to receive updates and notifications by text; or
  • as part of SSA’s enhanced security when accessing your personal my Social Security account. “ Contact SSA if you find suspicious work activity on your record—you could be a victim of identity theft.

You can find more information and report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission on their Identity Theft website.

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