My Social Security Number - How Secure Is It?

Fact Sheet 10My Social Security Number - How Secure Is It?

When Social Security numbers were first issued in 1936, the federal government assured the public that use of the numbers would be limited to Social Security programs such as calculating retirement benefits. Today, however, the Social Security number (SSN) has become the de facto national identifier.

Government agencies and private businesses use SSNs for a wide range of non-Social Security purposes — such as employee files, medical records, health insurance accounts, credit and banking accounts, university ID cards, utility accounts, and many more. The use of SSNs as both an identifier and an authenticator makes these numbers highly desirable to criminals, such as identity thieves.

Social Security Numbers FAQ

Fact Sheet 10aSocial Security Numbers FAQ

A company I do business with recently called and left a message on my answering machine asking for my SSN and date of birth. I've heard one should never give out this information over the phone. Can they do this?  Is it normal to ask for this information?

I gave out my Social Security number over the phone and now I am worried that it is a scam. What should I do?

Someone knows my personal information and Social Security number, but I do not trust the person. What can I do to protect myself?

Learn the answers to these and other questions by reading our Fact Sheet on Social Security Numbers Frequently Asked Questions. Learn how to guard your Social Security number and what to do if you accidentally give it out.

From Cradle to Grave: Government Records and Your Privacy

Fact Sheet 11From Cradle to Grave:
Government Records and Your Privacy

Checklist of Responsible Information-Handling Practices

Fact Sheet 12Checklist of Responsible Information-Handling Practices

Personal Data Retention and Destruction Plan

Fact Sheet 12aPersonal Data Retention and Destruction Plan

At Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, we believe your right to privacy is about being in control of your personal information. An obvious part of that equation is keeping good personal records. Just like companies have data retention and destruction policies, so should you. Read our newest fact sheet on creating a personal data retention and destruction plan.

Are You Being Stalked?

Fact Sheet 14Are You Being Stalked?

Stalking refers to harassing or threatening behavior that is engaged in repeatedly. Physical stalking is following someone, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing one’s property. In recent years, stalkers have seized on the anonymity of the Internet to commit their crimes. This has added a new dimension because many victims of cyberstalking don’t know the identity of the stalkers. That can make the fear more palpable and prosecution more unlikely.


Security Recommendations For Stalking Victims

Fact Sheet 14aSecurity Recommendations For Stalking Victims

What Personal Information Should You Give to Merchants?

Fact Sheet 15What Personal Information Should You Give to Merchants?

Merchants generally want as much information as possible about their customers so they can more precisely target offers to them. But in our information-centric society, where billions of bits of information can easily be collated and distributed, it’s not necessarily in consumers’ interest to have a lot of their personal data accessible. Seemingly innocuous customer information obtained from consumers at the cash register or online can be combined with data from other sources to obtain a surprisingly detailed portrait of an individual customer. 

Is it possible that in the not-too-distant future an insurance company could check the choices you make at the grocery store and penalize you if you bought, say, cigarettes or high-fat foods? Or, could law-enforcement officials scan store records to see if you acquired materials that could have been used in a crime?

The answer to the second question is “yes”.

State Merchant Laws

Fact Sheet 15 AddendumState Merchant Laws

Employment Background Checks: A Jobseeker's Guide

Fact Sheet 16Employment Background Checks:
A Jobseeker's Guide

Background reports can range from a verification of an applicant's Social Security number to a detailed account of the potential employee's history and acquaintances. There is even some evidence that employers are now searching popular social networking Web sites such as MySpace and Facebook for the profiles of applicants. This guide explains the why and how of background checks. It also tells you what can be covered in a background report, your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and what you can do to prepare.

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