Better Blogging / Blogging Tips / Business Blogging / online privacy / Personally identifiable information / Social networks

Social Security Numbers and Identity Theft

social security numbers I was reading Yahoo News and spotted an article I want to bring to the attention of my readers.  Here’s another reason you ought to be careful about what information you choose to post online, not only on social networks but everywhere you may be tempted to share your age, birthdate, location and any other information what can be used to identify you.

Social Security numbers have become increasingly important to Americans since they were introduced in 1936. However,  but the nine-digit numbers are surprisingly  easy to steal. Identity thieves get your personal information in many ways including posing by phone or E-mail as someone who legitimately needs information about you, such as employers or landlords.  Someone illegally using your Social Security number and assuming your identity can cause a lot of problems. The Social Security Administration is taking steps to change how they’re assigned. They intend to make all nine digits entirely random, and they recommend that people do not carry their Social Security cards unless it’s necessary to do so.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America. A dishonest person who has your Social Security number can use it to get other personal information about you. Identity thieves can use your number and your good credit to apply for more credit in your name. Then, they use the credit cards and do not pay the bills. You may not find out that someone is using your number until you are turned down for credit or you begin to get calls from unknown creditors demanding payment for items you never bought. — Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number

A report by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York says American servicemen and women may be overly exposed to the threat of identity theft because they are often required to give out personal information such as Social Security numbers in their work. —  The Military’s Cultural Disregard for Personal Information (PDF)

In 2009, Social Security numbers were used in 32 percent of identity thefts in which the victims knew how their information was compromised, according to Javelin Strategy and Research, which tracks identity theft. A study last year demonstrates that computer programs can successfully determine the Social Security numbers of 8.5% of those born since 1989. The information posted by members on social networks and other sites where location and birthdate information is publicly available are providing the basic information identity thieves require to use computer programs to detect what your social security number is.
Watch the video here > Social Security Numbers

Related posts found in this blog:
Blogging: Online presence and authenticity
Facebook Connections and Reputation Management
Social Networks Siphon Personal Info

6 thoughts on “Social Security Numbers and Identity Theft

  1. Titi!
    How have you been?! Dropping by to wish you a very happy new year, computer hassle free and hopes of having loads of fun with us ;)
    Hope you are doing well, and thanks for the tips.. Recently I have been bothered by two cell phone numbers, that keep sending me random marketing text messages.. And AT&T says it will charge a fee to help me block those numbers.. Uggh, I hate any kind of such privacy intrusions.. :(
    Hope to read more!

    • Hi Heart,
      I hope your holiday season went well. Most of mine did but there were some glitches here and there including the computer breakdowns. Like you I have had it with the marketers who call us during dinner hour. It seems that cuberspace is likewise crawling with marketers as well. I find it annoying if anyone pitches anything to me when I did not approach them and invite them to discuss the topic with them in the first place. For 2 years I asked for their superviosr and then demanded to be placed on the no-call list. I rarely get such calls now and when I do I say nothing – I hang up the phone and that’s that.

  2. Nine-digit numbers to cover 300 million people. You could take a random guess and get a legitimate SSN in one of every three tries. Admittedly, this gives you only the number, but not the name, birth-date, etc. But still, nine digits is an awfully small number when compared to the population of the entire US. I hardly think randomizing the numbers would do much good. It’s like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

    When researching homes under foreclosure several years ago, I stumbled into a major loophole that allowed me to acquire the birth-date, SSN and lots of other personal information, courtesy our local County Records office. It is a matter of public record to know who owns which plots of land in our county. If you own a home, your information is openly available in the County Records office. All some nefarious person needs to do is research the records and acquire name, SSN, birth-date, etc. of any homeowner. My guess is that my county is not much different than any other county across the U.S. The government needs to re-analyze the sensitivity of personal information versus the public’s right to know.

    My $0.02 worth …


    • It’s my understanding that what the government intends to do is create unique 10 random digit social security numbers.

      What people must do is be careful about what they are posting online. I am astonished daily by the amount of personal information I see posted on blogs and social network profiles.

  3. Seems to me TT, that as with phishing and financial details, one should never disclose vital personal information, like SS numbers, by email. Let’s face it, even if the request is legit, email isn’t completely secure. Likewise the telephone.

    Disclosing your location, and other personal details, online is just plain foolish. On my blog my location is simply “Somewhere in Birkenhead” – that’s enough information for anyone.

    It’s possible, if someone wants to read every post, to come up with both my fore- and surnames, I suppose, but even that won’t help as I’m ex directory, and thus not in the phone book, and I’ve opted pout of the public version of the electoral register for some years now (not paranoia – it cuts down on junk mail).

    And the criminal fraternity aside, there are just so many fruitcakes online (as almost every blogger knows), that making yourself easy to find in the real world just isn’t a good idea. You can filter the psychos online – you do NOT want them on your doorstep! And if you could see some of the comments I’ve had over the last few years, you’d realise that’s really not hyperbole.

    TT – sorry if you get this twice – I hit Post comment and it vanished (not even the usual held for moderation message).

    • I agree 100% with you and cannot comprehend why people are giving out such sensitive personal information at all. I see bloggers post the area they live in, their spouses names, the names of their kids and ages, etc.

      You can filter the psychos online – you do NOT want them on your doorstep!

      Well said.

      P.S. I deleted the duplicate. :)

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