Switch To A Secure Password Manager
Strong passwords will make it more difficult for hackers to access your information. Think of passwords as the gatekeepers to your online private data.
Elements of a strong password include:
- Is at least eight characters long
- Comprises three or four unrelated words
- Contains numbers and special characters
- Is not used across multiple accounts
But managing all your passwords can be tedious. About 68% of Americans use the same password across accounts. The solution? Use a password manager app, which creates and stores all your unique passwords.
Auraâs password manager is a Google Chrome extension that lets you save, access, and sync your passwords across devices.
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What Is An Ssn Self Lock How Does It Work
The DHS rolled out this feature to prevent employment-related fraud via the E-Verify program. Potential employers on E-Verify can confirm that an applicant is eligible to work in the United States.
Self Lock prevents this authorization and is especially useful if someone is unlawfully using your SSN for employment. The lock lasts for one year and can be extended upon expiry each time.
To sign up for Self Lock and freeze your SSN:
- Go to myE-Verify and follow the prompts to create an account. myE-Verify will email you a link to start the application.
- After you create the account, youâll take a short Identity Proofing quiz.
- Next, youâll land in your myE-Verify dashboard. Scroll down, and click Manage my SSN.
- Click Lock My SSN.
- Set your Self Lock challenge questions. Then click Lock My SSN.
To unlock your SSN:
To unlock your SSN, you must also answer the challenge questions you chose when locking it.
Disclosure Of Social Security Number
It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individuals refusal to disclose his social security account number.
theprovisions of paragraph of this subsection shall not apply with respect to
any disclosure which is required by Federal statute, or
the disclosure of a social security number to any Federal, State, or local agency maintaining a system of records in existence and operating before January 1, 1975, if such disclosure was required under statute or regulation adopted prior to such date to verify the identity of an individual.
Any Federal, State, or local government agency which requests an individual to disclose his social security account number shall inform that individual whether that disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, by what statutory or other authority such number is solicited, and what uses will be made of it. Section 7 of the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, 5 U.S.C. § 552a note ).
Although this provision applies beyond federal agencies, it does not apply to: any disclosure which is required by federal statute or any disclosure of a social security number to any federal, state, or local agency maintaining a system of records in existence and operating before January 1, 1975, if such disclosure was required under statute or regulation adopted prior to such date to verify the identity of an individual. See Sec. 7-.
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Consider Locking Your Social Security Number For Employer Searches
Many employers use E-Verify, a service run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to confirm the employment eligibility of potential hires. If youre not looking for a job, . Anyone using your SSN to apply for a job with an E-Verify employer will come up as a mismatch, and alert you and the employer of attempted fraud. You can unlock it any time a third party needs to verify your eligibility.
Keep Your Financial Records Safe
- Digital safety: Never give out your account login information when receiving communications from what seems to be your bank. A financial institution will never contact you first and ask for your PIN, full passwords, or security numbers.
- Physical safety: Destroy or shred any documents that include your name, address, or financial details before you throw them away. Securely store any financial documents in a locked compartment in your home.
ð Related: How To Protect Your Bank Account From Identity Theft â
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What’s An Extended Fraud Alert
An extended fraud alert does the same thing a temporary fraud alert does, just for a longer period of time. It generally stays active for 7 years, unless you cancel it sooner.
An extended alert is also a little more difficult to get than a temporary one, it generally requires a police report showing that you’re a victim of identity theft.
What To Do After An Identity Theft
You might wonder, What do I do if I gave my Social Security number to a scammer? There are several steps that you should take immediately following an identity theft or potential theft. First, you should notify the Federal Trade Commission and file a report of the theft at Identitytheft.gov. Next, you should file a report with your local police department. In many cases, you will need a police report to begin undoing the damage caused by the fraud. Go ahead and take a look at your free credit report to make sure that there are no additional items there that you were unaware of. At the same time, you should notify the credit reporting agencies like Equifax, Experian, and Transunion of the fraud. You can place a fraud alert on your Social Security number with these agencies. This alerts potential lenders to possible fraud on your SSN, and it makes them take additional steps to verify your identity prior to issuing new credit.
You might even want to go a step further and place a credit freeze on your SSN. This prevents anyone from even obtaining a copy of your credit report and credit score, so you can be sure that no new credit is issued until you remove the freeze. It is generally a good idea to sign up for credit monitoring at this time so that you can be immediately alerted to any new activity on your Social Security number. This can help you take immediate action when suspicious activity occurs.
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Register For A My Social Security Account
Even if you are not approaching retirement age, you should go ahead and register for a mySocialSecurity account at SSA.gov. This will prevent an identity thief from creating an account using your information. As mentioned above, make sure that you use a very strong password when you create this account. This will also help protect you from Medicare fraud and ensure that your information is not used with other government agencies like the Internal Revenue Service.
Information You Need To Freeze Your Credit At All 3 Bureaus
Its a good idea to gather all the documents you will need before initiating a credit freeze. While all three credit bureaus have slightly different requirements, here is the information you will generally need to provide:
Social Security number.
Depending on how you initiate the credit freeze online, by phone, or by mail you might also need:
Copy of your passport, drivers license or military ID.
Copy of tax documents, bank statements or utility bills.
Proof of address, like a utility bill.
Note: If you freeze your credit by phone, be prepared to answer some authentication questions, too.
Once a credit freeze is in place, it secures your credit file until you lift the freeze. You can unfreeze credit temporarily when you want to apply for new credit.
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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.
Does A Temporary Fraud Alert Prevent Accounts From Being Opened In My Name
It doesn’t prevent it the way a does, but it does make it more difficult. Any business that has been approached to open an account in your name is supposed to take extra steps to verify the identity of the person opening the account. That means you can still open accounts, you’ll just have to go through a couple of extra steps to prove that you are who you say you are.
It would be possible for a thief to open a fraudulent account too, but they’d have to put in more effort to impersonate you.
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How Can I Detect A Phishing Email Pretending To Be Social Security
- Most emails from Social Security will come from a .gov” email address. If an email address does not end in .gov, use caution before opening attachments or clicking on pictures or links in the email. Currently, Social Security sends emails from , , , , and echosign.com.
- In a few instances, we use marketing firms to raise awareness of Social Securitys online services, and this includes creating a my Social Security account. We allow these firms to send email directly to individuals. Any links you find within these emails should always point to a .gov/ web address.
- Links, logos, or pictures in the body of an official Social Security email will always direct you to an official Social Security website. Rather than relying on the way a link looks, please follow these steps to confirm a links authenticity:
- To verify the web address of a link or picture, hover over it with your mouse until a text box appears with the web address. This is the actual address you will be directed to and it should always include .gov/. A forward slash should always follow the .gov domain.
- Example – https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/
- Links to the official Social Security website will always begin with or .
- Below are examples of fraudulent websites pretending to direct you to Social Security. Notice the location of the forward slash.
Tip : Beware Of Phone And Email Scams
Identity thieves may try to trick you into revealing your SSN. For instance, in a phone or email, they might pose as your employer or a government office requesting information. Avoid sharing your number unless youre positive its a legitimate request.
Better yet, consider calling the requesting organization at a verifiable telephone number to provide the information. Or visit in person.
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Report Identity Theft To Other Organizations
You can also report the theft to other organizations, such as:
Credit Reporting Agencies Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit report. Also get copies of your credit reports, to be sure that no one has already tried to get unauthorized credit accounts with your personal information. Confirm that the credit reporting agency will alert the other two credit reporting agencies.
National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center Report cases of identity theft due to a stay in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
Financial Institutions Contact the fraud department at your bank, credit card issuers and any other places where you have accounts.
Retailers and Other Companies Report the crime to companies where the identity thief opened credit accounts or even applied for jobs.
State Attorney General Offices Check with your states attorney general office for tips, checklists, or an advocate to help you recover from identity theft.
You may need to get new personal records or identification cards if youre the victim of ID theft. Learn how to replace your vital identification documents after identity theft.
Don’t Fall For Common Scams
- An unexpected email purporting to be from the IRS is always a scam. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or social media to request personal or financial information. If you receive a scam email claiming to be from the IRS, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- An unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent, either threatening you with arrest or deportation if you fail to pay immediately, is a scam. In another variation, the caller requests your financial information in order to send you a refund. Report these calls and other IRS impersonation schemes to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at or online at IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting.
- If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but does not begin with ‘www.irs.gov,’ forward the link to .
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Be Selective About Security Questions
Answering security questions is a common way to verify your identity â something youâve likely come across before.
If you use security questions for password recovery, choose answers that are memorable and do not change over time.
- Use an open-ended question that could have multiple correct answers unlike your date of birth.
- Opt for less-obvious answers to security questions, such as your mother’s maiden name or the city in which you were born.
- Choose a question with an answer that you can easily recall.
- Avoid answers that change over time .
- Omit answers that require case sensitivity.
B Exception For Laws And Regulations In Effect Before January 1 1975
Federal, state, and local agencies may deny an individual a right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individuals refusal to disclose the individuals social security number if required under statute or regulation adopted prior to January 1, 1975, and used to verify the identity of an individual.
A second exception to the general provisions of section 7 is set out in subsection 7, which grandfathers statutes or regulations in effect before January 1, 1975, and provides that the prohibition on denying a benefit because of an individuals failure to provide a social security number does not apply to those statutes and regulations. SeeSchwier v. Cox, 439 F.3d 1285, 1285-86 grandfather exception did not apply to Georgia voter registration procedures), affg 412 F. Supp. 2d 1266 , remanded by 340 F.3d at 1288-89 McKay v. Thompson, 226 F.3d 752, 755 s exception for systems of records in existence prior to January 1, 1975, where disclosure was required under statute or regulation).
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Have More Questions Contact Social Security
- If you have more questions about your Social Security number and identity fraud, visit the official SSA website at www.ssa.gov/fraud/.
- You may also reach the SSA at 1-800-722-1213 or at 1-800-325-0778, from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm every weekday.
Protect yourself as best you can by using these preventative measures, and donât hesitate to resist or hang up on someone who insists on obtaining your SSN.
Identity protection is critical with the increasing rise in fraud cases. The real risk of identity theft is incomprehensible to most people â until their information has already been stolen.
With Aura, you get fraud alerts up to 4x faster than the competition and each adult on your plan is covered by a $1 million insurance policy for eligible losses due to identity theft.
Aura also bundles identity theft protection and credit monitoring with digital security software. Every Aura plan includes proactive safety tools including a password manager, VPN, antivirus software, and more.
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Important Information About Ip Pins
- An IP PIN is valid for one calendar year.
- A new IP PIN is generated each year for your account.
- Logging back into the Get an IP PIN tool, will display your current IP PIN.
- An IP PIN must be used when filing any federal tax returns during the year including prior year returns.
- FAQs about the Identity Protection Personal Identification Number
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Unexpected Or Missing Mail
Identity thieves may also watch your snail mail and email for your SSN. Itâs become a tactic of choice â with mail theft complaints increasing by 161% from 2020 to 2021 . Key signs someone has eyes on your mail include:
- Not receiving bank statements or invoices
- Receiving new credit cards that you never applied for
- Strange or unfamiliar medical bills
What to do: If your mailbox is in a communal area, lock your mailbox and only give access to the mailman. Also request and monitor your free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com and dispute any new unfamiliar credit accounts that you see.
Who Can Access Frozen Credit Reports
A credit freeze makes your credit reports inaccessible to most people, with a few exceptions:
Your current creditors still have access, as do debt collectors.
In certain circumstances, government or child support agencies can see them.
You can still give permission to an employer or potential employer to check your credit .
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