Posts tagged ‘ssn’

Passwords and Social Insecurity

Why do private companies treat your social security number like a personal ID number? The government doesn’t do this: the only federal paper that will have your SSN on it is your Social Security Card. It does not appear on your passport, your drivers license, or your birth certificate. and yet, the last 4 digits of your SSN is the default PIN for many ATM accounts. It was my keycode to clock in and out at a summer job I once had. I just got a copy of a background check Google did on me before hiring me (if your employer does a similar check, the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to get a copy), and the password I used to access it was those same 4 digits. Moreover, these last 4 numbers are written in two different places on this report. Insurance companies ask for these numbers when you sign up with them. So do apartment rental companies. They have no business checking on how much money I have paid/received to/from Social Security, and the number should not have any other purpose.

When Social Security was created, the intention was never to make these numbers identify you throughout your life! If some less-than-upstanding person gets these 4 digits, I don’t want them to suddenly have access to my bank account, credit report, insurance policy, etc. This is exactly how identity theft gets started! Is my family the only one concerned about this? Would anyone be willing to step up and present the other side of this?

One reason I’m worked up about this now is that I have just avoided having my identity stolen: I received a piece of mail on Bank of America letterhead saying that there was a problem with my credit card, and I should call the number provided to straighten it out. I needed to have my credit card number ready so they could verify some questionable actions taken on the account. The only problem? I don’t have a BoA credit card. At least, I didn’t. The next day, as if to rectify this problem, my new BoA credit card arrived in the mail. The phone number given in the letter is nowhere to be found on the BoA website, or indeed any website indexed by Google. I’m heading to the bank tomorrow to try to clear this up, and possibly to the post office afterwards: this can likely be considered mail fraud as well as attempted identity theft and attempted credit card fraud. I have no proof that this is related to misuse of my social security number, but the SSNs are a tangential topic about which I have much more knowledge.

The bottom line is this: protect your SSN, don’t use it for other passwords, and try to keep your passwords as unique as possible. Thanks for letting me rant.