The Social Security Administration is adding an extra layer of protection to online accounts.
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Anyone signing in to an online Social Security account, or signing up for the first time, must provide either a cell-phone number or an e-mail address to receive a unique, one-time code by text or e-mail. The Social Security Administration rolled out a similar two-step process in 2016, but it restricted the extra layer of protection to text message only.
Its smart to set up an online account even if youre years from retirement. Once youve done so, identity thieves will be unable to create a fraudulent account in your name and use it to apply for benefits. In addition, you can check your earnings history against your W-2 forms or tax returns to make sure there are no gaps in your earnings record that could reduce your Social Security benefits. You can also look up estimated retirement, disability and survivor benefits and, in certain cases, request a replacement Social Security card. To set up an account, go to www.ssa.gov/myaccount. Youll need to enter some personal details, answer questions to confirm your identity, and choose a unique username and a complex password.
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