In the everyday life of worrying about how much Facebook, Google and Amazon are tracking us, it can be hard to remember that we need to be even more concerned with who has our financial information.
Identity theft is no joke, and can be a major headache, so preventative measures are best. The first step is to know who has your information.
Parents, Family, Roommates
You likely got a social security card at birth and since you were a toddler and you didn’t yet have the greatest track record of storing important documents, your parents or guardians likely did it for you. Many of you might not have taken it with you to college and it’s still in a parent’s attic for safe keeping while you have strange roommates and move into a new apartment every year. If you brought it with you and it’s sitting in the open on your shared dorm dresser (do not do this), your roommate has access to it as well.
Banks, credit card companies (including Best Buy or whoever you have your store card through) and any other financial institution needs your social security information. This can include utilities like the gas company – so they know where to find you if you flake on a payment. It may seem like a no-brainer that companies that deal with your finances have your financial information, but even simple stuff falls through the cracks.
Your boss needs your social security number for a variety of reasons, and though that couple you babysit for on the weekends doesn’t need it, everyone you’ve worked for that has sent out a W-2 has your social security number.
What can you do to keep on top of it and make sure that only the right people have access?
Keep the documents secure
Don’t carry a social security card in your wallet, or lying around out in the open. Bank statements, tax forms etc. should also be kept secure.
Once a year you can get a free credit report
This is more in depth than a credit score to track when someone used your information. Making sure that only the loans you have are listed, and not new or unknown ones, can keep you on top of things if someone does get ahold of your identity.