How safe is your personal information?

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- When you apply for a job or find a place to rent, chances are you get a background check.

But who’s looking at your most private information and how safe is it in the hands of strangers?

In order for a government worker or contractor to obtain a national security clearance, they must fill out a 127 page background check packet. The documents ask for Social Security numbers, addresses and all kinds of personal information.

“They ask you for your spouse, they ask you for your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, all your first kin basically,” said John Benkert.

Benkert worked for the National Security Agency and now owns Cyber Security Defense Solutions.

According to the Obama administration, more than 21 million Americans had their personal information stolen after hackers broke in to the Office of Personnel Management’s database, which houses those background check packets.

Benkert says those 21 million Americans could only be the tip of the iceberg.

“The problem is those systems are typically connected. So if they breached one, they most likely breached them all and they just haven’t found it yet,” said Benkert.

Benkert also believes whoever stole this information isn’t trying to make money from it, but something more sinister.

“Either pose as the other person on the phone, or to pose as the person online or to blackmail that person,” he said.

We are often asked for our phone number, address and Social Security number, but where does it go?

“It gets put in to a system, you don’t know where those servers are, you don’t know where the information is going and you don’t know how those individuals are protecting your data,” said Benkert.

Benkert suggests to become more skeptical. If a business is asking for your Social Security number, ask them if they really need it. Benkert says some businesses may be using older forms and no longer needs the Social Security number.

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