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Protecting your social security information

Your social security number was initially devised to keep a record of your individual earnings. Now it's used as a general identifier and crooks will go to extreme lengths - including hacking websites - to get it.

"To me, it's very concerning when large companies who should understand this, being their business, have issues with handling information," says Todd Rhoad.

Today, many people question who really needs the information.

"I wouldn't give anybody my personal information," said Jeanie Scarborough.

Government agencies providing services including the IRS, your employer for tax purposes, and banks for monetary transactions can require it, but you can refuse to give it to a business or other enterprise - and many are.

"You have to make that decision if it's worth signing up for the card or you might opt to write it down and take that piece of paper back with you," said Princess Stringfellow.

A link on the FTC's website reveals you can review your social security statement online, which would let you know if someone has used your SSN to get a job. You can choose to block electronic access to your Social Security record, preventing anyone, including yourself from being able to see or change your personal information online.

Many feel credit monitoring is enough.

"You know, this is the 21st century and people are doing all kinds of things. Back then, we didn't have to worry about social security and people trying to hack into your computer, we didn't have to worry about that, but this day and age you have to be so careful," said Rosemary Kennedy.

Which is why you should never print your social security number on a check, business card, or other label. You shouldn't carry your card in your wallet, and ask why your SSN is requested and suggest alternatives, including your driver's license number.

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