If someone gets their hands on your social security number, they can wreak havoc on your life by using your social security number illegally and assuming your identity to create numerous financial problems. When it comes to protecting you against items such as identity theft and tax fraud, keeping your social security number sacred is in my opinion the number one priority for confidentiality within your records.
- Tax Returns - We have seen this type of theft escalate in droves over the past five years. Someone who grabs your social security number can file a tax return in your social security number and get your refund before you even file a tax return. In fact, you won't even find out until you actually try to file your own return.
- Getting Credit - Once a thief has your social security number, they can easily complete an application for credit. Retailers make huge money off of store based credit cards, so this is a convenient opportunity to use your social security number to get quick access to money.
- Medical Benefits - If someone nabs your social security (and a little bit of other information), they could get medical treatment which could haunt your own medical records.
- Open Doors - Getting a social security number can open doors to allow a thief access to your 401(k), open up a bank account, or even file for unemployment. They may also try some other phishing scheme to get others to give away even more information until they complete the trifecta of information that allows them to access almost anything and everything.
While stealing your home address, driver's license number, or your birthdate can create problems for you and your family, protecting your social security number will be the most important item to watch. If your number is breached for some reason, you should immediately go to www.idtheft.gov and report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission as well as contacting the major credit reporting agencies.