How to Protect Your Social Security Number From Identity Theft

fyi50+: The Social Security Administration has been promoting awareness of scams for several years through their annual National Slam the Scam Day on March 7. Even though March has passed, what should we do to remain vigilant and protect our Social Security number from the scammers?

Freitag: Well, Heidi, unfortunately, scams are not new. Thieves have been trying to access your personal information for years. 

Unfortunately, as the country shut down during the COVID pandemic, these thieves became increasingly bold and innovative. They started to call and email workers at home out of the blue, representing that they were from various federal government divisions. One of the most common bogus calls made people think the Social Security Administration was calling. 

fyi50+: I received some of these calls. They sound compelling to some people. It is easy to fall into their trap.

Freitag: For sure. Did the calls sound something like this:

Hello, Heidi; this is Bob Smith from the Social Security Administration in Washington, DC. I regret to inform you that someone used your Social Security Account in Arizona, and it is clear that you are subject to a fraud investigation. Immediately call 800-xxx-xxxx to resolve this critical problem. This call is not a prank. It is very serious. Thank you.  

Does that sound like one of the calls you received?

fyi50+: Yes!  

Freitag: I am sure you did not call the 800 number. But people who receive these bogus calls need to realize a few essential things about these scam calls so they can protect their Social Security number and don’t fall prey to identity theft:  

1. Everyone with a phone or email address can get one of these calls.

2. NEVER call the 800 number back or respond to the email and NEVER provide your Social Security Number. That will not end well – your identity and SS number will be compromised.

3. You should know that the government will NEVER call or email you out of the blue. They can and will call or email you back, but you must have initiated the conversation first. 

4. The Social Security Administration is well aware of these bogus calls and is working on ways to stop them. The Social Security Administration has teamed up with AARP to spread the word about these thieves and their attempts to steal your important information.

5. The Social Security Administration has established a great website to help combat this identity theft problem. If you receive a call, email, or letter asking for your information, you should visit and report it. 

fyi50+: Is there more we can do to help protect our Social Security information from getting into the hands of these thieves?

Freitag: Absolutely. Everyone with a Social Security number should visit and create a myAccount. This process is simple and requires choosing a unique username and password. These credentials are a defense against potential thieves attempting to access your information. The new myAccount portals are secure and protected by the Social Security Administration.

fyi50+: Besides theft protection, how can a myAccount help you?

Freitag: Most important, you can see the projected size of your Social Security retirement amount. You can also check your earning history to ensure you are getting credit for your contributions to the system. Remember that if your earnings history is incorrect, the error will favor the government in the form of lower benefits at retirement time. 

fyi50+: That’s a comprehensive set of guidelines, Dave. I appreciate the detailed information and the proactive steps we can take to protect ourselves from these identity theft scams. It’s alarming how sophisticated these scammers have become, but it is also reassuring to know that measures are in place and resources are available to help us stay one step ahead and safeguard our Social Security numbers.

Freitag: Absolutely, Heidi. Awareness is vital, and people can actively protect their personal information with the correct information. The more people know about these preventive measures, the better we can collectively protect ourselves and our communities. If everyone plays a part in slamming the scam daily, we can make it much more challenging for these fraudsters to succeed.

Together, we can make a difference in combating these scams and creating a safer digital environment for everyone. 

Put the creation of your myAccount on your to-do list today. The thieves are still out there and looking for their next unprotected victim. 

Don’t be one of them!


David Freitag

David Freitag, an industry veteran in financial services and wealth management, brings a deep passion and unparalleled knowledge of Social Security filing strategies and retirement income planning to his current role as a financial planning consultant for the Advanced Concepts Design Group of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). His also holds a Master of Education and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Maryland.

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