Do you know what it takes to be safe online? You probably connect daily to get information, shop, socialize, or work. Every time you go online, you need to avoid the risk of theft or fraud. Here are some tips to use while visiting the Social Security website and the other websites you use.
Use strong passwords — Strong passwords have at least eight characters and include capital letters, numbers, and nonletter characters.
Don’t recycle passwords — Although, it requires effort to think of new passwords constantly, it provides safety when you do. If you use the same password for every site, a hacker could get access to all of your accounts.
Take advantage of multifactor authentication — Many websites offer the option to use a second factor — or method — in addition to just a username and password to ensure that only you access your information. Using more than one factor to establish identity makes it harder for someone to get into your account and steal your personal information.
Social Security requires multifactor authentication to access a my Social Security account. More information is available at socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/verifyandprotectid.html.
Read Scam Alerts — For information about fraudulent activities related to Social Security, you can find information at our blog Social Security Matters under the Newsroom section at blog.socialsecurity.gov.
One way to avoid identity theft is to create your own my Social Security account, if you haven’t already. When you have an account, no one else can set up an account using your info.
Social Security’s Office of the Inspector General investigates fraud involving Social Security and publishes fraud advisories at oig.ssa.gov/newsroom/news-release. The Federal Trade Commission website publishes information about scams that appear in the news at consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts.
Review your online accounts and credit reports — Just as you review your earnings record with Social Security for accuracy at socialsecurity.gov/myaccount, you should review your bank and credit card accounts for accuracy. Free copies of your credit report are available annually from Experian, Equifax and Transunion at annualcreditreport.com, and check it for incorrect entries.
Guarding your personal information requires investing some time, but is worth it.
Tiggemann is a spokeswoman for the Social Security Administration.