Protecting Your Social Security Number

Many Americans know little about the laws that dictate the legitimate and illegitimate uses of their Social Security numbers. Evan Hendricks, author of Credit Scores and Credit Reports and editor and publisher of Privacy Times, talks to Michele Norris about what to do if your Social Security number is stolen.

Identity Theft IQ Test

The following identity theft IQ test, provided courtesy of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse Web site, helps people assess the risk of their identities being stolen:

I receive several offers of pre-approved credit every week (5 points).

Add 5 points if you do not shred them.

I carry my Social Security card in my wallet (10 points).

My driver's license has my Social Security number on it (10 points).

I do not have a post office box or locked, secured mailbox (5 points).

I use an unlocked, open box at work or at home to drop off my outgoing mail (10 points).

I carry my military ID in my wallet at all times (10 points).

I provide my Social Security number whenever asked, without asking questions about how that information will be safeguarded (10 points).

Add 5 points if you provide your number orally without checking to see who might be listening.

I am required to use my Social Security number at work as an employee ID or at school as a student ID number (5 points).

My Social Security number is printed on various documents frequently seen in the workplace, such as on time cards (10 points).

I have my Social Security number and/or driver's license number printed on my personal checks (10 points).

I am listed in a "Who's Who" guide (5 points).

I carry my insurance card in my wallet, and either my Social Security number or that of my spouse is on that card (10 points).

I have not ordered a copy of my credit report for at least two years (20 points).

I do not protect my discarded personal, credit and financial information from thieves by shredding them prior to putting them in the trash (10 points).

Each one of these questions represents a possible avenue for an identity thief.

Understanding Your Score:

If you scored 100 points or more you are at high risk for identity theft.

A score of 50-100 makes your odds of being victimized about average but higher if you have good credit.

A score of 0-50 points means you have a low risk of being an identity theft victim.

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