Howard Kossover: Social Security needs personal data to verify online account identity
Q: The security questions asked when I created a my Social Security account involved more details about me than I thought Social Security would know. Where do the questions come from?
A: Creating a personal My Social Security account is the way to view your SSA Statement, with estimates for family financial planning and your earnings record.
People receiving benefits can update changes and verify amounts online. Learn more at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
The Social Security Administration has less personal information than you might think. If not receiving monthly benefits, most information about you is from your Social Security number (SSN) record, as updated with any name changes, and your work history. If receiving benefits, the agency has information needed to pay those benefits, including address and direct deposit bank account data.
Maintaining your security on Social Security records is very important. Anyone at least age 18 and having an e-mail address can create their own online My Social Security account. When doing so, you provide some personal information plus answer several questions that only you are likely to know about. Next, you create a username and password to access your online account and not known to Social Security.
Personal information requested includes your name and Social Security number. For other questions, an external authentication service provider, Experian, helps Social Security verify your identity by using information from your Experian credit report.
The inquiry to your Experian credit report does not affect credit scores and is not reported to lenders. Asking unexpected and individualized questions from there to establish your identity helps protect your personal information.
Note that you cannot create a my Social Security account if you have a security freeze, fraud alert, or both on your Experian credit report. You must have Experian remove the freeze or alert until your my Social Security account is established. More about this is at my Social Security link on the SSA homepage, www.socialsecurity.gov or directly at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Based in Grand Forks, Howard I. Kossover is the Social Security Public Affairs Specialist for North Dakota and western Minnesota. Send general interest questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his online articles at socialsecurityinfo.areavoices.com.