The Sony hack involving Hollywood bigwigs might have dominated the headlines this year, but ordinary consumers had their data exposed in numerous other cyber-breaches.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, more than 83 million consumer files became vulnerable this year in at least 760 known privacy beaches.
Bill has a question about all this: "Will or can the government issue new or no-longer-used Social Security numbers to anyone impacted?"
The short answer is yes. But think twice before going down this road.
For better or worse, Social Security numbers have become de facto ID numbers for Americans. As such, your Social Security number touches nearly every aspect of your life.
It's not hard to see how a new number can cause complications as government agencies, financial institutions, insurers and others no longer feel confident that you are who you are. It can take a lot of calls and letters to straighten everyone out.
The Social Security Administration has strict rules about who can and can't get a new number. For example, you're not eligible to switch numbers if you've lost your card but there's no evidence of fraud or if you're trying to duck the fallout from a bankruptcy.
If you want a new number, you'll have to prove your identity, age and U.S. citizenship or immigration status to federal officials. You'll also have to show evidence that you're having ongoing problems because your number is being misused.
For what it's worth, I've had my identity stolen multiple times and I've never felt a need to swap Social Security numbers. It's always seemed like more hassle than it's worth.
I advise identity-theft victims to look instead at such measures as credit monitoring and credit freezes.
If, on the other hand, you're determined to start afresh, here's the website where you can get the ball rolling, Social Security-wise.