Online Social Security Accounts: Tips for Safe Use
Jackie here. Have you signed up for an online Social Security account? Earlier this year Social Security announced that the agency is expanding the services available online for those with a my Social Security account. These accounts aren’t just for those receiving benefits; anyone over 18 can sign up for an account by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. If you have an account, or would like to sign up for one, here are some things to keep in mind to protect your privacy:
Create Your Account and Keep It Safe
When you sign up for an online social security account, you will be asked to provide some personal information to verify your identity. Once you’ve been verified by the system you will then create a username and password. When creating passwords for sensitive accounts like this one, a secure password is essential. Here are some tips for creating your password:
- Don’t Reuse– Remembering a variety of different passwords is difficult, but it is important for keeping your identity safe. Don’t reuse the password that you use on other accounts and never use words or simple phrases that id thieves can easily guess.
- Combine Letters, Numbers, and Symbols– A combination of letters (both upper and lowercase), numbers, and symbols will make your password safer. Rather than tacking a symbol at the end of your password, mix things up and intersperse each element throughout the password.
Always keep your login information for this account personal, just like you would your social security number. Be on the alert for phishing emails since there have been reports of scam emails that appear to be from my Social Security. Don’t sign up for accounts for anyone but yourself, even if someone asks for your help.
Look for Signs of ID Theft
These online Social Security accounts potentially hold some benefits for id theft prevention. Previously, your Social Security Earnings Statements would only come every few years, but with an online account, you can check as often as you like. Keep an eye out for employers you have never worked for on your benefits statement, this could be a sign of id theft. In addition, check on your benefit information at least once a year to ensure no one else is claiming benefits using your identity.
As with any online account there are potential benefits and risks to signing up for a my Social Security online account, but these tips will help you minimize those risks.