Frauds & Scams

10 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information

February 2, 2023 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 2, 2023

Identity theft affects millions of people each year and can cause serious harm. Protect yourself by securing your personal information, understanding the threat of identity theft, and exercising caution.

Here are 10 things you can start doing now to protect yourself and your loved ones from identity theft:


  1. Protect your Social Security number by keeping your Social Security card in a safe place at home. Don’t carry it with you or provide your number unnecessarily.
  2. Be careful when you speak with unknown callers. Scammers may mislead you by using legitimate phone numbers or the real names of officials. If they threaten you or make you feel uneasy, hang up.
  3. Create strong, unique passwords so others can’t easily access your accounts. Use different passwords for different accounts so if a hacker compromises one account, they can’t access other accounts. Check out the Federal Trade Commission’s password checklist for tips.
  4. Never give your personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited call or message, and never post it on social media.
  5. Shred paper documents that contain personal information, like your name, birth date, and Social Security number.
  6. Protect your mobile device from unauthorized access by securing it with a PIN, adding a fingerprinting feature, or using facial recognition. You can also add a password and adjust the time before your screen automatically locks.
  7. Regularly check your financial accounts for suspicious transactions. You can also request and check a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year: TransUnionEquifax, and Experian.
  8. Avoid internet threats by installing and maintaining strong anti-virus software on all your devices—including your mobile device and personal computer. Use a virtual private network (VPN) to stay safe on public Wi-Fi. Do not perform certain activities that involve sensitive data, like online shopping and banking, on public Wi-Fi networks.
  9. Protect yourself on social media by customizing your security settings and deleting accounts you no longer use. Also, double-check suspicious messages from your contacts, as hackers may create fake accounts of people you know.
  10. Never click on any link sent via unsolicited email or text message—type in the web address yourself. Only provide information on secure websites.

We encourage you to create your own personal my Social Security account to track your earnings record. For more information, please read our publication, Protecting Personal Information. Contact us if you see suspicious work activity on your record–you could be a victim of identity theft.

Please share this information with your family and friends—and post it on social media.

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  1. Ritesh k.

    this information is very helpful for me

  2. Joan

    I have been applying for sea since 2021. I have brought them everything asked of me when I gothe sea since 2021. I have brought them everything asked of me when I go back they come up with more and more being denied over and over I was on the sea and got hit by a car in 2017 for a permanent injury I got $67.000 bought a car my point is I no longer need to be t I am now 67 years old not getting public assistance is like to know what will it take for them to see my bank account is got nothing went through what settlement I received. I am now being evicted due to the landlord not getting e instead she is evicting. I Don’t know where to turn for help. Would appreciate any advise

    • Joan

      I appreciate the tips on scams I get a ton a day.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Joan. We are sorry to hear about your condition and situation. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., for assistance. You can also contact your local Social Security office. In addition, you may be eligible to receive social services from the state in which you live. These services include free meals, housekeeping help, transportation, or help with other problems. To get information about services in your area and find out if you qualify, you will need to contact your state or local social services or welfare office. We hope this helps.

      • Joan

        Thank you for replying and calling the phone number that you have shared no one ever answers as for phone appointments I have had two and no one called. I am disabled it takes a lot for me to go to the social security office where I live the last information they insisted on me getting and bringing to them I did what was asked of me what I got was a person who wouldn’t even take the legal document. Maybe you can share how to go about getting what I know I am entitled to they have me running in circles. It’s a shame I will have to pay for an attorney.

    • Lana R.

      If you have an ucan office near you they can help with rent if you get behind.
      They might be other similar places that can help with rent and utilities bills.

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  4. Khabir

    Excellent read, I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your post. Keep up the effective work.

  5. Collette B.

    I think this is a great article to link to my website. I have done Medicare insurance for over a decade. 80% prior to 2020 would just start rambling off their ss# to me without even knowing who I am. I would stop them in mid- sentence and let them know to be careful who they give that to. They don’t know who I am and should guard it and give to only those that need it for certain business purposes. The new cards have the protection and has made it tougher on agents to help them, but with the right tools we can assist, and I am always happy to help protect them.

  6. Ralph K.

    I keep seeing online ads claiming that social security recipients can get $900 in food allowance. Is that true? Who would qualify if there really is such an allowance? If someone’s a noncitizen resident who has lived and worked in the US for decades, would they qualify?

    • MajJohn

      Non citizens might be entitled to SS when their work credits are combined with work in another country. Things such as a $900 food allowance are scams to get you to sign up for insurance you don’t need. If one’s income is low enough they may qualify for welfare to pay their Medicare premium. That extra money could be used for food or whatever. Also low income recipients would be eligible for food stamps thru the county warfare system.

    • Sherry

      The card you are referring to is for disabled and senior citizens. It’s based on your income. Once you qualify, you are sent the U-Card for United Health Insurance. There are two cards, one for $180/month, for out of network and $205/month for in network. I heard about a flex card also, but I don’t know the specifics on it. Hope that answered your question.

    • Janet S.

      The flex card is only through Humana or another insurance. But it’s like MajJohn said above. I would not give up my Medicare card (red, white and blue card) for any other insurance I don’t care what they offered.

  7. James W.

    My data has been “lost” four times that I am aware of. Two from my employer, Boeing, one from my wife’s employer, the Port of Seattle. Yet the worst of all was when the OPM “lost” all the data from my Top Secret security clearance. The US Government is the biggest threat to data loss! Don’t tell me to protect it when none of you who claim that you must have do not protect my data!

  8. Teddy W.

    The ssa continues to stress protecting your ss no, but yet they continue to mail the ssa 1099 form showing your complete ss no. When are you going to start masking the no and only show the last 4. Even Medicare changed their number system. I continue to ask that question with no answer.

    • MajJohn

      Good point. It’s about time to only use the last 4 or use other means of delivery such as electronic. Also, you ought to be able to opt out getting it. Many people do not meet the income test wherein they need that information for their tax return.

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