A person’s Social Security number is a key to identity theft.  Armed with this information, an identity thief can steal your identity, get credit in your name and even file an income tax return using your Social Security number.  Identity thieves are always devising new ways to lure people into providing their Social Security number.  The Social Security Administration (SSA)Inspector General has issued a warning about new threats, one of which you can control and the other of which you cannot.  According to the Inspector General, the data base of the Social Security Administration suffered a cyberattack that appears to have stolen information from the SSA that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Having this information fall into the hands of identity thieves is something you cannot control.  However, the Inspector General also indicated that identity thieves are also contacting people by phone, emails or text messages claiming to be representatives of Social Security requesting personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account number or birth date under various guises.  People falling for these scams and providing this information soon end up becoming victims of identity theft.

TIPS

Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.  The Social Security Administration will not contact you by email or text messages so if you are communicated with by either of these methods, you can be sure that it is a scam.  They will generally not call you by phone either except in the limited situations of where you have just filed a claim and even then, they will never ask for your Social Security number or other personal information.  As a general rule, you should never provide personal information to anyone who calls you on the phone because you can never be sure they are who they say they are.  If you do receive a communication that purports to be from Social Security that you think might be legitimate, you can find out for sure by merely hanging up and calling the Social Security customer service line at 800-772-1213.