Daily Dupaco

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Safeguarding your Social Security number

From the doctor’s office to schools, consumers are constantly being asked for their Social Security numbers.

Every time that all-important number is put out there, it opens the door to identity theft.

So, what should you do when you’re asked to divulge those confidential nine digits?

The short answer: It depends.

The Social Security Administration says it’s important to be careful about sharing your number, even when you are asked for it. The SSA recommends asking these three questions to help you decide whether to give out your number:

  • Why is my number needed?
  • How will my number be used? 
  • What will happen if I refuse to give it to you?

“Follow your instincts. If you ever have any concerns about giving out your information, make sure you’re asking these questions. And if you still don’t feel comfortable, don’t provide it,” says Jill Gogel, fraud/BSA compliance specialist at Dupaco. “They should be able to provide you honest answers to these questions.”

At Dupaco, for instance, prospective members are asked to provide their Social Security number so the credit union can check their credit and determine whether they qualify for an account. Dupaco also needs members’ Social Security numbers for tax-reporting purposes.

But even when you have to disclose your Social Security number, Gogel says there are ways to keep the identifier secure:

  • Keep tabs on your credit. You can get a free copy of your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Space out your reviews by pulling your credit report from a different bureau every four months.
  • Request a free Credit History Lesson. If you have concerns about your credit, or simply want to learn more about what makes up your score, request a free Credit History Lesson from Dupaco. 
  • Consider purchasing Family ID Restoration coverage. Dupaco partnered with Deluxe to offer its members Family ID Restoration coverage, which gives members additional resources to help prevent and respond to identity theft and fraud.

By Emily Kittle

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