Identify theft is abundant across the United States and is a growing problem. Avoiding these identity thieves can feel like a constant battle, especially when you feel the pressure to present your Social Security number (SSN). Your identity is your responsibility to protect. Fortunately, there are steps you can take in order to protect your social security number and your identity.

Properly Store Your Card

One of the most essential ways to protect your identity and your Social Security number is to properly store your card. The worst place you can store your card is in your wallet. This is because the chances of someone obtaining it while in your wallet is high. If your wallet is open, it will be easy for someone to see your card. If your wallet is lost or stolen, someone could very easily steal your identity. You will want to make sure you keep your card in a secure location. While there are safe deposit boxes located at local banks, some people find these more beneficial for other sensitive documents. A home safe or lockbox will be able to keep your Social Security number safe at home.

Offer an Alternative Form of Identification

When someone requests you to present your Social Security number, it is always recommended that you offer them another form of valid identification. Oftentimes, these businesses or entities will take more than one form of identification, allowing you to withhold your sensitive information. Some businesses and institutions have legal rights to ask you for your Social Security number, but they typically do not actually need it. They may accept your passport, driver’s license, or even a student ID.

Ask Why They Need Your SSN

Although some institutions and entities have the right to ask you for your Social Security number, you also have the right to ask them what they need it for and how they will store it appropriately. Not all businesses handle sensitive information the same, so asking these questions will help you decide whether or not to allow them access. You may want to question their privacy policies or any liability concerns you may have. Although you can deny them to view your card, you may be revoked services or opportunities for doing so.

Shred Mail And Sensitive Documents

Even when mail and other documents gets thrown out, there is still a risk for identity theft. Those that wish to steal identities or put your information up on the black market, will go through great lengths to do so. If your identity is stolen, you may have to get a replacement social security card online. Paper shredders are available at office supply companies. The information that you plan on throwing away should be sent through the paper shredder before it is discarded in order to keep your personal information safe. You will want to go through your documents and paperwork regularly. This will help you find papers and documents that have sensitive information that you may not need anymore. Disposing of documents properly is important in protecting your identity.

Update Your Passwords

Passwords are used to protect our personal and business accounts on varying platforms. This includes access to credit cards, bank accounts, and email accounts. While all passwords are at risk for being cracked, weak passwords are most at risk. You will want to update your passwords to make sure they are strong and varying across all your different platforms. Keep a private detailed note of these passwords, so you do not forget them. Do not store passwords on your cell phone. If your cell phone were to become stolen, lost, or in the wrong hands, you risk compromising all of your accounts.

Do Not Give Out Your Number

Keep your Social Security number out of the digital realm and be wary of those who ask for it. You do not want to ever text your Social Security number or send it in an email. This leaves a clear paper trail and is essentially impossible to erase. If this happens, there is no telling who will be able to get ahold of it. This may lead to you learning how to get a replacement social security card online. If a website is asking for your Social Security number or is wishing that you send over a document containing it, you will want to go to great lengths to ensure that this website is secure. You will only want to use your Social Security number if it is absolutely necessary.

Get Identity Protection Services

There are different institutions that provide identity theft protection services. While this is a great option, you will want to check what each one offers before making a decision as options can vary. These plans are generally considered insurance plans for your identity. Most of them send you alerts via text message or email if any of your accounts have been compromised or if suspicious activity has occurred. These companies will be able to help you with the next steps following identity theft and assist you with identity theft protection.

How Do I Get a Replacement?

There is an option to get an original Social Security card or a replacement in the event that your card was either lost or stolen. You will not be charged for this service and it is able to be done online. The only requirements are that you are at least eighteen years old, are not changing your name, and have a driver’s license or state issued identification card. This service is available via an online portal called “my Social Security”.

Identity theft is a growing problem across the United States and leads to broken lives and unneeded hassle. The fewer places that get your Social Security number, the better. It is your responsibility to protect your identity, so take the necessary steps to ensure that it is safe.