Privacy on the web

The Social Security Administration has gone the way of many businesses these days, and you can now handle most all of your business online. More than 34-million Americans now conduct business with the SSA, more than at any other time in history.

But as you may have guessed, doing business online brings with it the increased risk of having your identity stolen. The SSA no longer regularly mails annual benefit statements, and using your MySSA account is a more convenient way to manage your account.

The agency houses sensitive data on every American, living or dead; this includes medical and financial records. Almost all Social Security benefits are now paid electronically, which gives thieves a greater chance to redirect payments to their own accounts. The worry is that thieves could claim accounts and file for benefits.

For example, in 2014 a Miami man created more than 900 fraudulent MySSA accounts and redirected roughly $700,000 in benefits to his own bank account. Luckily, the IRS and the FBI investigated and were able to put the man behind bars.

In the wake of last year’s Equifax hack, which exposed social security numbers, birth dates and addresses of millions of Americans, concerns have intensified.

The SSA recommends that if you have not already done so, it is a good idea to set up your MySSA account, especially if you are about to retire, or you are already receiving benefits.

When you set up the account, make sure that your birth date and mailing address are correct. You can also choose to use the SSA’s “Block Electronic Access” feature. This will block any automatic telephone or online access to your account.

If you have questions about Social Security benefits, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.

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