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Online Social Security Accounts

Do they increase your risk of ID theft?

Years ago, most United States workers received annual social security statements in the mail. But once those statements stopped and the social security administration began engaging online, the opportunity to check your personal account became much more convenient. It’s estimated that more than 34 million people now manage their accounts online—logging in to check the status of benefits, watching over their balance for the future, updating personal information and more. But with all the cyber attacks and account hacks that have occurred and continue to occur and the fact that everyone’s social security information is available all in one place, the question arises—does having an online social security account increase your risk of ID theft? The answer is yes, and no. Take a look:

Plant your flag before someone else does

Some experts suggest that just like filing your tax returns early can help prevent a thief from stealing your refund, setting up your social security account online will protect it from being claimed by someone else. Unfortunately, in these days of constant technological advances, those with unscrupulous motives are continuously finding ways to breach the system. And there’s probably nothing more alluring than a site that can provide all the personally identifiable information (PII) needed to steal IDs. But if you don’t set up your online social security account, it’s possible that someone else will—giving them access to all of your most confidential information, including your name, address, social security number, birth date and much more. And once they have set up your account, they can redirect any payments you receive to a different bank or address, or simply steal your ID.

Anti-fraud protections

The SSA (Social Security Administration) reports that the instances of fraud are very rare due to their high-level of security protections. Although nothing is infallible, the social security site’s authentication methods are robust and contain various steps—including a verification code either emailed or texted to individuals to validate their identity. The SSA also performs anti-fraud analytics to identify and combat any suspicious activity.

In 2014, before these protections were beefed up, a Miami man was caught diverting social security payments to himself, collecting more than $700,000 from 900 different social security accounts. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the IRS and the SSA are immediately responding to complaints or inquiries relating to social security accounts, including unrequested changes of addresses, bank account changes, and all other activity.

Keeping your information safe

Setting up your social security account online can help you ensure that your benefits, even if you won’t be receiving them for several years, are continuously monitored. It can help you keep tabs on your personal information and spot a potential problem immediately. If you do set up your account, remember, just like checking your credit report, you should sign-in on a regular basis and be on the lookout for anything suspicious like changes you didn’t make. Also, the first time you log-in, check that everything they have on you is correct, like your birthdate and address.

Protecting your identity can seem like an increasingly daunting task. But now that your social security account can be available to you 24/7, it makes it easier and more convenient to monitor your personal information. Remember, regularly shredding your outdated and unneeded documents and devices can ensure that your sensitive information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. To set up a one-time shred or a regular shred schedule at your home or office, give us a call today 772.283.4152.

All Points Mobile Shredding offers shredding and destruction services to residential and commercial clients throughout the Treasure Coast, as well as in Okeechobee, Palm Beach, and Broward Counties.

Dawn Connelly

Dawn Connelly

Dawn is the vice president of All Points Mobile Shredding. All Points Mobile Shredding is a family-owned and operated on-site document destruction company that has been serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beaches, and surrounding areas since 1994.
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