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Social Security numbers aren't safe.
They're relics of a time when policymakers couldn't possibly predict how rampant identity theft would one day become.
Take last year's massive Equifax hack for example...
In September 2017, the massive credit-reporting agency revealed that Social Security numbers belonging to some 143 million Americans had been exposed.
Every day that this problem is allowed to go unchecked, your information becomes more and more vulnerable.
In fact, shortly after the breach came to light, one of Washington's foremost experts on cybersecurity spoke out in favor of outright Social Security number elimination.
Rob Joyce, special assistant to U.S. President Donald Trump and White House cybersecurity coordinator told attendees at a security conference on Oct. 3, 2017, that the Social Security number as we know it "has outlived its usefulness," The Hill reported that day.
But we're not going to wait around for the antiquated Social Security Administration (SSA) to get its act together - like that will ever happen. We'd rather show you how you can take matters into your own hands and potentially turn the SSA's mistakes into a $23,000 payout...
There's a Good Chance Your Social Security Number Is Already at Risk
It's impossible to roll back the risk of having your SSN exposed once it's out there, according to Joyce. He says that the Social Security system is profoundly flawed.
"I personally know my Social Security number has been compromised at least four times in my lifetime," he said. "That's just untenable."
It's important to keep in mind that a "compromised SSN" isn't the same things as a "utilized, stolen SSN." Compromised SSNs are, however, more vulnerable to being stolen, because they were attained by illicit means in order to make them accessible to identity thieves.
Credit card numbers, for example, are often compromised as well. But on the dark web, they're a dime a dozen.
But unlike a stolen credit card that can be easily replaced, a stolen SSN can stay with you for years; it's essentially irreplaceable.
And once in active use, a stolen SSN could wreak serious havoc on your life...
Thieves could open new credit and bank accounts with your identity; they could access brokerage accounts, commit tax fraud, get medical treatment, or even apply for government benefits.
And hackers selling SSNs to these thieves aren't slowing down. Breaches like the Equifax incident involving Social Security numbers have steadily ticked up in occurrence and pace in recent years...
In 2013, for instance, CreditCards.com pegged the number of online security breaches involving SSNs at 614 total.
In 2016, that annual number grew to 1,091.
And then there was last year...
2017 saw a record number of data breaches involving SSNs: 1,500, to be precise.
Research organization Identity Theft Resource Center estimates 158 million Americans' SSNs were made vulnerable by security breaches last year (including the Equifax hack's massive total).
Now, consider this number in relation to the total U.S. population of 327 million.
That's comes to 48%.
Indeed, nearly half of the U.S. population is at risk of Social Security number theft because their SSNs are already vulnerable.
Like we said, there's a good chance you're in that group.
To know if you are for sure, it's wise to request your "Social Security Statement" from the Social Security Administration. The requesting process is easy and can be done at SSA.gov. Viewing your statement will allow you to see activity associated with your SSN - especially its current state of vulnerability.
Once you've done that, you also need to make sure that the SSA is giving you the money you're entitled to. If you aren't receiving the full amount, you're essentially paying them to put you at risk.
You see, if you're retired, over 50, and you receive Social Security benefits, Uncle Sam may not be paying you what you're fully due.
But this problem is 100 times more fixable than that of SSN fraud.
In fact, you can fix it right now. Here's how...
It's Time to Take Your Money Back
If you're one of the remaining Social Security recipients over the age of 50 who wasn't paid the money you're owed, then you need to act now.
Depending on your specific situation, the SSA might impose a strict time limit on when certain corrections can be made. If you're already collecting benefits, your time may be running out.
Luckily, if you are eligible, we're here to tell you how to request your payout. And it could only take a few minutes of your time.
There's no need to hire a lawyer.
And we can help you.
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