Why might the Equifax Breach pose a danger to Social Security accounts?
The recent Equifax breach exposed names, addresses, birth dates and the social security numbers of 143 million Americans. This is exactly the information a criminal needs to take advantage of a social security recipient – who hasn’t yet set up their own “My Social Security Account”.
Any Social Security recipient who has not already set up their own “My Social Security Account” is advised to do so immediately!
In case you are not aware, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides an online service that enables a Social Security recipient to set up their own personal Social Security accounts with the SSA.
Once your personal Social Security account is set up, it enables you to do a variety of tasks. You can view your earnings history and estimates of benefits. You can also manage your benefits online, such as changing your address or changing your direct deposit information.
In light of the Equifax breach, criminals will seek to take full advantage of this Social Security Administration online service.
Therefore, Social Security recipient who hasn’t already set up their own social security accounts, should do so ASAP. Otherwise, they may discover that an Imposter has already beat them to the punch and set one up, in your name.
Once an Imposter sets up a “My Social Security Account” (using the victim’s personal information), they have the ability to make changes to the victim’s account. They can and will make changes to the direct deposit info and have the money sent to a bank account – controlled by the Imposter.
Be sure to use a long and strong password when you set up your account by using the first letters of a sentence or phrase and mix it up with numbers and symbols. Use a mix of upper and lower case letters too and make it at least 10-12 characters long. The longer the password, the better.
UPDATE: If you have a credit freeze in place, you CANNOT set up your account online because the SSA cannot verify your identity once a freeze is in place. You will need to call them instead at 800-772-1213. Ask for the Help Desk. The SSA help desk phone line is available between 7 am and 12 am – Eastern Standard Time.
For more information about how to set up an account – visit the SSA website. The website address is: https://ssa.gov/myaccount/
Most importantly, you can also require that any changes to the bank account (into which your check is electronically deposited), can only be done at a Social Security branch office instead of your online account.
Read a previous article I wrote about the Equifax Data Breach to find out what to do to protect yourself.