Periodically, I like to holler out in the newsroom, "Who has their social security card in the purse or wallet right now?"
Every time, several people raise their hands or start pulling the card out of their pocket. And, every time, I get on to them for carrying it around with them, when they don't need to and certainly shouldn't.
I have yet to meet a person who doesn't have their social security number memorized. So, why do you carry the card? Thieves would consider it pay dirt to steal your purse or wallet or break into your car and find your social security card. If they get that and your driver's license, you'll not spend weeks or months sorting out the identity theft nightmare, but, years.
That's right, I've interviewed people who have spent that long, making phone calls, writing letters, dealing with creditors and sorting out the mess. In the meantime, that good credit you worked so hard for your whole life, is in ruins.
I've even interviewed women who had not only their social security card in their purse when it was stolen, but, also the cards of their children. Bad news. I've talked to 16 year-olds who apply for their first car loan, only to find out someone has been using their personal information and they have terrible credit before they ever begin.
Take your card out of your purse or wallet and hide it. It's best to put it someplace secure like a safe desposit box, but, if you don't have one of those, think like a crafty criminal and hide it inside your home.
I do realize many insurance cards and all Medicare and Medicaid cards have social security numbers on them. Not good. I encourage people to contact their insurance companies and write letters to the government to get that changed.
It's such a simple way to give yourself a little more protection. I've been on busts where criminals have made copies of hundreds of social security cards and I find myself thinking, how did they ever get those in the first place? Then, I interview another victim who starts listing all that was stolen from their wallet and sure enough, their card was in there.
Do yourself a favor and like I tell my co-workers from time to time, "that that out of there!"