In light of the 2017 Equifax breach, there are many steps that you should take in order to protect your identity and credit. We’ve covered the basic steps in previous articles, discussing identity theft protection as well as credit freezes.
Another important step you may want to consider is creating a “my Social Security” account online at the Social Security administration website (https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/). Signing up is relatively easy once you answer some security questions about yourself and most importantly, once your account is set up, you’re effectively preventing someone else from signing up as you. Theoretically, with the information accessed in the Equifax breach, someone could beat you to the site and apply for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits in your name.
There are also other benefits such as accessing your current Social Security statements and past earnings history. It’s important to review your statement at least annually to make sure your record of annual earnings is correct. If incorrectly reported, it could affect the amount of benefits you’re able to receive. It’s been stated in some sources that there is on average a 3% error rate1.
In the age of technology, you can never be too safe so please make sure that any user names or passwords you create are secure, and we’d also recommend not storing them in your smartphone notepad or a spreadsheet that’s accessible via the internet (such as saved to Dropbox or Google Drive). There are several software companies available that you can use for secure password storage that will help you store and create custom passwords as well as custom security question answers.
As always, we’re here to help you through these processes. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.
Greg Solis, AIF®
President and CEO
Tiffany Valentine, CFP®
Vice President and Director of Financial Planning