With the recent Equifax breach, we're all concerned about who might get access to our Social Security number.
This week, the White House Cybersecurity Advisor said the SSN has "outlived its usefulness," saying it is a relic from the 1930's and was never originally intended to be a national identifier for life.
Security experts want it modified into a hard-to-hack digital identifier, like the chip in new credit cards, with a PIN number that you set.
Until that happens, though, there are three things you can do to prevent a hacker from doing anything more with your info, if he accesses your Social.
How to protect yourself
1. Sign up for credit monitoring. Equifax is offering free monitoring right now, though after a year, it will jump to $12 a month.
A better alternative, and completely free, is the monitoring offered by the financial website Credit Karma.
They are legitimate, make their money by referring people to banks, and are safe....so far.
2: Freeze your credit, by looking for the credit freeze webpages at Equifax,Experian, and TransUnion: It should cost no more than $10 at each agency.
Unfortunately, the freeze page can be hard to find, as credit bureaus would rather sell you expensive monitoring and "locks." If you can't find the webpage, Google search for "TransUnion credit freeze" and find it that way.
3. Set up an online Social Security Account, at SSA.gov.
That way you prevent unauthorized access to your Social Security benefits by anyone else. You essentially lock your Social Security benefits.
If you don't take action....
But from the "doesn't that stink" file, what can happen if you don't take any action.
Since there's a good chance your name, birth date, and Social were stolen in the Equifax breach, and are now for sale on the "dark web," a thief can apply for credit cards in your name, if you don't have a freeze.
If that happens you'll say "doesn't that stink?"
And, worse, if you have never set up a Social Security account, they can set one up for you, and start taking your hard earned benefits
Remember: Credit monitoring is fine, but it only tells you about a problem after the problem happens
So take some proactive steps so you don't waste your money.