Recently, the FBI announced that it busted a dark web operation called “SSNDOB” that sold personal information in exchange for Bitcoin. While this is excellent news, it’s troubling that apparently the site had been operating for nearly a decade.
That raises the question - how do I keep my SSN safe from people like this?
Preventing your SSN from being stolen in the first place just requires a few good habits to implement in your day to day life, online or otherwise. Here’s a list of 5 common sense habits to get into that will keep you safer.
There are very few instances where it’s absolutely necessary to give your Social Security number to another person. If they accept a different form of ID, you should absolutely opt to provide that instead of a number as vulnerable and important as your SSN.
If you carry your card around with you all the time, it’s likely to suffer weather damage, get lost, or otherwise come to harm. Additionally, if you keep the card in your wallet or purse, and that gets stolen, the criminal responsible has much greater ability to access and abuse your finances.
Revealing information mailed to you, such as credit card information, tax forms, etc. can allow a bad actor physically close to you to steal your ID with enough accumulated information. This is an incredibly dangerous and scary situation to be in, and you shouldn’t allow it to happen by carelessly throwing important documents into the trash.
We’ve written about how to write a strong password in the past, and a nine digit number certainly does not pass the test. In addition to it already being a terrible choice, if your password were ever to get stolen, your SSN would go along with it.
Texts and emails can be intercepted, and if one of them contains a piece of information as vital as your Social Security number, the results would be devastating. It’s best to avoid such channels out of an abundance of caution.