Avoiding Identity Theft and Protecting Your Social Security Number

SSN Theft

Today the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of the Inspector General reported that a New York woman admitted to owning and operating a website in 2013 and 2014 through which she sold stolen Social Security Numbers (SSNs).

She advertised these stolen SSNs as “credit profile numbers” and encouraged her customers to use these SSNs in place of their own on credit and loan applications, as a way for customers to avoid their own negative credit histories. She faces up to 30 years in prison, up to 5 years of post-imprisonment supervised release and a maximum $250,000 fine when she is sentenced on May 14, 2018. For details see https://oig.ssa.gov/audits-and-investigations/investigations/jan9-ny-ssn-fraud

To protect your Social Security Number the Social Security Administration (SSA) suggests the following:
• Never list an SSN when posting a paper record on a public bulletin board
• Never send SSNs via an electronic format
• Never have a computer log-in system where a person has to use their SSN
• Never use SSNs on ID cards
• Never send SSNs on postcards
• Never store SSNs on unprotected computer systems
• Never carry a Social Security Number card on your person

According to the SSA the issue of improper or unnecessary use of SSNs is still very much on the public’s radar. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) returned to this issue in a 2011 field hearing concerning use and protection of SSNs and child identity theft, and has audited use and protection of SSNs by hospitals, schools and prisons, not to mention SSA itself.

You can find other recent OIG Audit reports at http://oig.ssa.gov/audits-and-investigations/audit-reports/all . Also, there have been several bills in Congress on the general issue of use of SSNs as identifiers which, if passed, could make the issue very current again http://thomas.loc.gov/ .

The SSA recommends a number of resources which provide additional information on dealing with identity theft and how to prevent it, including:
• FTC is the lead federal agency on identity theft. Their website is http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft/
• SSA offers a great deal of information on SSNs on our internet site at http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/.

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2018 Taxable Maximum Amount Announced by the Social Security Administration

Revised 2018 Social Esecurity Tax Maximum

The Social Security Administration (www.ssa.gov) provides the following information: In October of each year, the Social Security Administration announces adjustments that take effect the following January that are based on the increase in average wages. Based on the wage data Social Security had at the time of the October 13, 2017, announcement, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) was to increase to $128,700 in 2018, from $127,200 in 2017. The new amount for 2018, based on updated wage data reported to Social Security, is $128,400.

This lower taxable maximum amount is due to corrected W2s provided to Social Security in late October 2017 by a national payroll service provider. Approximately 500,000 corrections for W2s from 2016 resulted in changes for three items based on the national average wage: the 2018 taxable maximum, primary insurance amount bend points–figures used in the computation of Social Security benefits–and family maximum bend points. No other items based on national average wages were affected.

The change to the taxable maximum does not take effect until January 2018, and the updated bend points in the benefit computation only apply to people who initially become eligible for Social Security benefits in calendar year 2018. This does not affect current beneficiaries.

For more information about the updated 2018 taxable maximum amount, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/COLA/cbb.html. Additional information about the new 2018 bend points may be found at www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/COLA/Benefits.html and www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/COLA/bendpoints.html.

An updated Federal Register notice will be published soon to reflect these changes.

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