In the early 1990s, when my eldest son was just a child, I was aghast when I discovered that another person was using his Social Security number to secure employment. After tracking down the employer, I learned the problem was widespread and unless the individual committed a serious crime, there was nothing I could do except report it to the Social Security Administration. How this individual learned my son’s name and Social Security number back then is beyond me – we simply hadn’t had to provide the combination of information much at all up until that point in his life.

As you’re likely aware, identity theft is much more serious and pervasive now than it was in the 1990s. Experts estimate that about 15 million people in the United States deal with it every year with losses totaling more than $50 billion.

If someone misuses your Social Security number or other personal information, the Social Security Administration can’t resolve these problems for you, but make sure to visit to report the identity theft and access a recovery plan. The site guides you through each step of the recovery process. It’s a one-stop resource managed by the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency.

It is more important than ever to increase awareness of data privacy. With today’s world of social, mobile, cloud, big data, and analytics, never have so many strangers had access to so much private data for so little cost.

Data Privacy Day

I urge you to get involved in Data Privacy Day — January 28 — and advocate for your business, your private personal data, and your safe community. Leading the Data Privacy Day efforts, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) creates awareness about the importance to everyone of safeguarding data. Year-round you can learn about how data privacy is good for your business at and get tips to on how to educate your employees and your family members. Our widespread use of social media has only complicated matters, and it’s important to stay up to date on the latest advice, especially regarding children.

Visit the Data Privacy Day website to take action, help create a culture of privacy, and support Data Privacy Day’s theme of respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust.