Tags: Weston | Social Security | ID | theft

Liz Weston: We're All At ID Theft Risk Because Social Security Numbers Are Flawed

By    |   Friday, 20 March 2015 06:40 AM

Identity theft protection is a myth — there is no current way for Americans to reliably protect their good names, financial accounts or medical records, according to veteran personal finance expert Liz Weston.
 
So much for the credit monitoring agencies that take to TV and other media to promote their wares and horror stories, in Weston's view.
 
"At best, these companies can give you early warning if you've become a victim and help you try to clean up the mess," she wrote in a column for CBS Moneywatch.
 
"Our information is too poorly protected in too many databases. Sure, we can do a few things to make certain types of theft a little harder. But as breach after breach after breach has shown, our biggest risks are beyond our control."
 
Even if Americans put a security freeze on their credit reports, which can help prevent new account fraud, they are still exposed to other types of ID theft, Weston noted.
 
Those unavoidable risks include medical ID theft, where someone racks up medical bills in your name; criminal ID theft, where someone gives a false identity to police; and tax ID theft, which is used to steal the tax refunds of others.
 
"You can, and should, be stingy about giving out your Social Security number, vigilant about checking your credit reports, careful to shred documents with sensitive information. You should buy a locking mailbox, install and use anti-malware software, and stop clicking on links in your emails."
 
But at the end of the day, Americans can still become identity theft victims because of a flaw in the nation's primary way for identifying its citizenry, Weston said.
 
"As long as your Social Security number is an all-purpose identifier — which it was never meant to be, and which it's not in other developed countries — you're at risk."
 
The Associated Press reported there are visible flaws in the record keeping at the Social Security Administration itself, saying the agency lists 6.5 million living Americans who have reached the age of 112 — a statistical improbability.
 
"People in the country illegally often use fake or stolen Social Security numbers to get jobs and report wages, as do other people who do not want to be found by the government. Thieves use stolen Social Security numbers to claim fraudulent tax refunds," the AP reported.
 
CNNMoney recently questioned why the U.S. is still using Social Security numbers for identification at all. However, other options are likely too mammoth and costly.
 
Neal O'Farrell, a consumer advocate with the Identity Theft Council, told CNNMoney the alternatives of a new national ID number for Americans, or biometric identifiers like fingerprints and iris scans, are either too unwieldy or are opposed by too many citizens.

Related Stories:

© 2020 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.


   
1Like our page
2Share
StreetTalk
Identity theft protection is a myth — there is no current way for Americans to reliably protect their good names, financial accounts or medical records, according to veteran personal finance expert Liz Weston.
Weston, Social Security, ID, theft
453
2015-40-20
Friday, 20 March 2015 06:40 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
 
Newsmax TV Live

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
MONEYNEWS.COM
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved