Q: Some of the security questions when I created a my Social Security account took me by surprise. While I expected the often seen birthdate type of question, my Social Security questions involved more details than I expected Social Security to have about me. Where do the questions come from?
A: This question was asked during one of my retirement seminars. Before answering it, I think it is important to mention that the Social Security Administration has less personal information then many people think. If not receiving monthly benefits, the bulk of personal information held by Social Security about you is from your Social Security number (SSN) application as updated, and your work history. If receiving benefits, the agency has information that you provided and needed to pay those benefits, including your address and direct deposit bank account information.
Maintaining the security of your personal information on Social Security records is very important to the agency, which brings us back to the question.
Anyone at least age 18 and having an email address can create their own online my Social Security account. To create an account, you must provide some personal information about yourself and give us answers to some questions that only you are likely to know. Next, you create a username and password that you will use to access your online account. This process protects you and keeps your personal Social Security information private.
Some of the personal information requested is your name, Social Security number and birthdate. For other questions, an external authentication service provider, Experian, helps Social Security verify your identity by using information from your Experian credit report. This can result in what is known as a “soft inquiry” on your Experian credit report but does not affect credit scores and is not reported to lenders. It does provide the ability to protect your personal information by asking questions that only you should be able to answer.
Please note that you cannot create a my Social Security account online if you have a security freeze, fraud alert, or both on your Experian credit report. You first must ask Experian to remove the freeze or alert.
A link to my Social Security is on the homepage of www.socialsecurity.gov or you can go directly to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount/. Linked from that page are details explaining how your identity is verified and protected.