Monday

Why should your social security number be kept private and what it tells about you

What the numbers in your social security number say about you and how it can identify you is easier to understand than you may think. One thing can lead to another and the next thing you know, someone has stolen your identity and run up thousands of dollars of debt in your name. It can happen even if all they have is just your SSN and your name. It is just so very easy for it to happen to you.

Each number in the SSN sequence represents a specific bit of information about a person that is unique to them.

For instance, the first three digits can tell someone what state you were likely born in. Let's start there. If a thief gets hold of a valid SSN, they can figure out where that person was likely born just from the number alone.The name, of course, is easy because that is printed right on the SSN card.

Okay, so they have a name and an SSN. You'd think they would need more to open up a charge account in your name right? Maybe, but that depends on the company giving out the credit. More importantly, getting more info on someone is pretty easy. Check the internet (I won't tell you where) and with only a little digging around you can come up with the street address for just about anyone. I did.

Social Security Number Source Chart
But wait - suppose there are several folks by that same name. For instance, there are at least 8 people named "Ronald Burdge" in the US. So how does the thief know which one of them he has the SSN of? Well, he starts with the first three digits of the SSN. If it is between 400 and 407, then he probably has the SSN of the Ronald Burdge who lives in Kentucky. A few more clicks and the thief can see this Ronald Burdge lives in Henderson in an area where the average home value is $135,000 and he is a white male.

One more click and he learns the middle initial and approximate age of that Ronald Burdge, that he's married and a republican born between July 22 and August 23. There's even a picture of his home and the address on the internet. His wife is Kathy, who is a few years older than him, and they have one child, Eric, who is in his 30's and who also lives there in the same town. He loves reading and drives a truck and donates to charities and other good causes, including the local hospice home, where a family friend passed away (I know the fellow's name too).

And the thief can find out a whole lot more for free. And if the thief is willing to pay a few bucks on a couple of web sites, he can learn even more, but he probably won't need it to open up that Sears charge card or get that internet loan, etc.

So protecting your social security number is extremely important. Never give it out to anyone for anything in life unless you absolutely have to. Your social security number is the key to knowing everything about you or any other person. In the wrong hands, it can ruin your credit and your life.