This January, Citibank sent out 600,000 mailers with their customers’ social security numbers printed on the outside of the envelope. Whoopsie!
Concerned about a recent incident in which his wife’s social security number may have been exposed (by a Bank of America employee, but that’s another story), Christian wants to know if you can change your social security number. In special circumstances, yes, the Social Security Administration will change your number. You need to show proof that 1) you’ve suffered harm from someone misusing your ss# and 2) you’ve made all reasonable efforts to otherwise solve the problem i.e. credit report freezes, closing accounts and changing account numbers, etc. If both of these apply, then you can simply visit your local SSA office, call, or visit www.ssa.gov/reach.htm.
Reader Robert writes:
I guess I will never get tickets to the Masters, because I am not sending them my SSN.
Reader Drew L pointed out this serious snafu on the part of tax giant H&R Block:
I read something on your site about a company or three using a security breach to sell identity protection services. Well today I received a letter from H&R Block (I did my taxes online free there last year, great site). They described how through an error they placed customers’ social security numbers in a 40-digit alphanumeric code on the outside of some free TaxCut software they had sent out. The kicker here is that they were simply writing to inform customers of the mistake and to apologize… no services were offered, sold, or otherwise browbeaten. I thought that part was remarkable.
We don’t know exactly what they could have done to fix the error—the damage is done. But it does feel like they should be offering some recourse.