By Edward I. Cariuty
"Beware the Ides of March," said the soothsayer to Caesar in William Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar. We at Social Security recommend you beware not only the Ides of March, but every day-and every time - you go on the Internet. Identity theft and cyber-crimes are among the fastest-growing crimes in America.
Today's savvy thieves have added identity to the list of things they can rob. Their targets are people who use the Internet, and by the time you realize you've been robbed, Brutus may already have done his damage and escaped.
"Et tu, Brute?" Caesar said as his good friend Brutus betrayed him. Even webpages and online sources that appear friendly and trustworthy could be plotting against you. This is why you should protect your personally identifiable information, such as your Social Security number, date of birth and mother's maiden name. Never give this information out in an email or fill it in on a website asking for it, unless you are absolutely sure that you know and trust the source. And even then, be cautious.
That said, if you conduct business on www.socialsecurity.gov, there's no need to worry. Our online transactions are secure and convenient. You are protected when you are on our website.
If you think you've been the victim of an online Brutus, don't simply tear your toga. You should contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/identitytheftt. Or you can call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338); TTY 1-866-653-4261.
There will continue to be those who believe it won't happen to them. And there will continue to be victims. "The Ides of March have come," Caesar said, doubting the prophecy that he would become a victim on March 15.
"Aye, Caesar," the soothsayer replied, "but not gone."
Sure, you may have used the Internet for years and may consider yourself savvy. But there's always tomorrow for a Brutus to strike. When it comes to providing personal information on the Internet, treat every day as though it's the Ides of March.
Unless you're in a secure place that you trust, like www.socialsecurity.gov. After all, on the Ides of March and every day of the year, Security is our middle name-literally.
Learn more about identity theft by reading our online publication, Identity Theft And Your Social Security Number, available at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.