published Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Social Security: Keep your identity safe

By Gregory Holmes
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    Gregory Holmes, district manager for Social Security

The Halloween celebrations Wednesday may have given you a good fright. What makes it enjoyable is that it's all in good fun. People know that there is no real danger as long as precautions are taken.

But identity theft is a real threat. Identity thieves victimize millions of people each year. Don't be tricked by identity thieves; take the proper precautions.

Be sure to safeguard your personal information, such as your Social Security number and mother's maiden name. Identity thieves hunger for such information like trick-or-treaters hunger for candy.

You can help protect yourself by not carrying your Social Security card with you and not providing your personal information to unknown sources over the Internet or by email.

Be sure to shred any documents, bills,or paperwork before you throw them away.

Most important, never reply to an email claiming to be from Social Security that asks you for your Social Security number or other personal information.

If you think you've been the victim of an identity thief, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261. Or you go to www.idtheft.gov and click on the link for "Report Identity Theft."

Learn more about identity theft at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10064.html.

Submit questions to local Social Security Director Gregory Holmes by writing to Business Editor Dave Flessner, Chattanooga Times Free Press, P.O. Box 1447, Chattanooga, TN 37401-1447, or by emailing him at dflessner@timesfreepress.com.

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