Don’t carry your Social Security card or number in your wallet or purse. Keep it somewhere safe at home. Remove your name from many direct mail marketers’ lists by registering with the Direct Marketing Association using the online form at dmachoice.thedma.org. This will create fewer opportunities for thieves to steal your information. Remove yourself permanently from most telemarketers’ lists by registering your cell phone or landline number with the Do Not Call Registry at (888) 382-1222 or at donotcall.gov.
Never give your personal information to someone who calls you and asks for it, even if they say they’re from your financial institution. If you want to confirm if the call was legitimate, hang up and call that financial institution back using a phone number you trust, like the one on your bank statement or the back of your credit card. Use a shredder, scissors, or your hands to tear all papers with identifying information or account numbers into tiny pieces before throwing them out. Also cut up any old or cancelled credit cards or debit cards. Only give out your Social Security number when it’s absolutely necessary. Often when someone asks for it, you are not required to give it to them. Protect information like your mother’s maiden name, which is often used as a way to verify identity with financial institutions. Be cautious of where this might appear online, so don’t put it on your social media account.
This is an excerpt from Your Money, Your Goals toolkit, a toolkit created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
If you are looking for financial advice, Michael Hall is a financial counselor with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation. As a financial counselor he helps individuals allocate their funds better, deal with debt, weigh in on legal options, and even save for a rainy day. If you’re in debt or have no credit and need help, a reputable credit counseling organization, like the Office of Financial Empowerment through NYC Office of Consumer Affairs might be able to help. To schedule a financial counseling appointment, go to: www.nyc.gov/talkmoney or call 718-636-6900 and ask for Michael Hall.