Information You Should Know About Your Social Security Number
The Social Security Act of 1935 established Social Security numbers for the use and administration of the Social Security program. In 1961, the Internal Revenue Service began using Social Security numbers as identifying numbers. In 1976, the Tax Reform Act enabled motor vehicle registration and licensing entities, welfare agencies and State and local tax organizations to use Social Security numbers. Over time, without statutory authorization, businesses, along with additional governmental and educational entities, began to track individuals using Social Security numbers. Today, the consequence of increased Social Security number use and access, combined with the explosion of technology, is greater incidences of identity theft.
Criminals are able to use a Social Security number to fraudulently obtain credit, open a new bank account or even obtain a drivers license. Thus, restricting the use and exposure of your Social Security number is a key strategy in reducing the likelihood of falling victim to identity theft.
How Do I Protect My Social Security Number?
Do not carry your Social Security number card with you, in your wallet, or in your purse. Instead, keep it in a safe and physically secure place. Consider storing your Social Security card in a safe deposit box or locked safe.
How Do I Protect My Social Security Number in the Marketplace?
Under State law, a New York business is prohibited from the following:
How Do I Protect My Social Security Number in the Workplace?
Tips For Avoiding Scammers
Scammers often ask for Social Security numbers as part of a fake job application or as part of the hiring process for a job that doesn’t exist.
- Real employers will never ask you to send them money as part of a job application. You will not be asked to buy a kit, software, or materials for a job.
- If an employer you have never worked with or never heard of gives you a check, it is likely also a scam. Tear up the check and cease communication with the company.
- Definitely do not email your Social Security number to any prospective employeror to anyone.
- Avoid sharing any personal information beyond your contact information. Do not include, for example, your drivers license number and/or credit card information.
The information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own states laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.
Ask Questions When They Ask For Your Social Security Number
There is no law that prevents businesses from asking for your SSN. And you may be denied service if you don’t give the number. If giving your SSN to a business doesn’t seem reasonable to you, ask if you can show another form of identification. Or ask if the business can use another number as your customer number.
Remember that some government agencies can require your SSN. These agencies include DMV, welfare offices, and tax agencies. Look for the required “disclosure” form. The form should state if giving the number is required or optional, how it will be used, and the agency’s legal authority to ask for it.1
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When Applying For A Store Loyalty Card
You will need to provide your Social Security number when applying for a credit card, personal loan or mortgage , but not if you are applying for a loyalty card at your favorite department store.
Thatâs because with a loyalty card youâre not actually applying for credit, youâre just getting a card that will track purchases so you can get reward points. If you see a space on a loyalty card application for a Social Security number skip right over it. If the store wonât process your application without it take your business somewhere else.
When Applying For Other Government Benefits
The Social Security Administration and the IRS have a right to insist on your SSN but most other government agencies typically do not.
The Privacy Act of 1974 in fact compels government agencies to inform you if you are legally obligated to comply with their request for a Social Security number. If the agency has no legal right to demand it they cannot refuse you services or benefits because you refused to provide a Social Security number.
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Your Social Security Number Is The Key
Originally, your Social Security number was a way for the government to track your earnings and pay you retirement benefits. But over the years, it has become much more than that. It is the key to a lot of your personal information. With your name and SSN, an identity thief could open new credit and bank accounts, rent an apartment, or even get a job.
Can I Refuse To Give My Social Security Number To A Business Or Doctor
Yes, you can refuse unless youre legally required to provide your Social Security number .
However, theres also no law preventing businesses from asking for it or refusing you service if you dont provide it. If a business requests your SSN, you can always speak with a manager or ask if theres an alternate ID you can provide .
What Is A Social Security Number
All citizens of the United States who are over the age of 18 and receive some type of income are required to have a social security number . Employers must use this number to report all of the employees income to the Internal Revenue Service .
Social Security is a government program that provides financial support for individuals who reside in the United States when they are retired or are no longer able to work. This program is funded by the taxes that are paid by individuals who are working in the United States.
Social Security provides financial support for individuals who are:
Social security benefits are a specific category of monetary benefits that are provided by the Social Security Association . Examples of common social security benefits that may be available include:
- Retirement benefits: Individuals who retire after reaching the age of 62 are entitled to retirement benefits. The amount of money that the individual receives is directly related to the amount of income made over the course of their working life
- As such, the later you file for retirement benefits, the larger those benefits will be, up until the age of 70
Can Someone Use A Child& closecurlyquote s Social Security Number For Credit
That means children are often a blank slate for fraudsters who can apply for credit and take out loans in their name. Use of a child& CloseCurlyQuote s Social Security number for fraudulent purposes can go undetected for years, since parents may not check to see if their children have credit reports.
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When Applying To Or Registering With School
There are many types of ID that you may need to provide in order to apply to or register with a school. You might have to show a birth certificate or driverâs license or perhaps even a passport.
In addition, you may be asked to provide utility bills to prove that you live where you are claiming to live. But no school, especially a public school, has a right to demand you provide a SSN to be considered for admission. In fact, it is illegal for public schools to suggest you must supply a Social Security number as a condition for admission. The only time a school or university can insist you supply a SSN is if you are applying for financial aid because theyâll be able to use it to verify your familyâs income situation.
Origin Of The Ssn And Federal Government Usage
The social security number was first introduced as a device for keeping account of contributions to the Social Security program. Through the years, however, the use of this identifying number has been expanded by government entities and the private sector to keep track of many other government and private sector records. In the view of some, a person’s SSN has attained the status of a quasi-universal personal identification number.1
Federal and state agencies collect and use SSNs to verify eligibility for and administer government programs that provide benefits and services. Private sector entities routinely obtain and use SSNs for a wide variety of purposes. Today one can be required to furnish one’s SSN to obtain a driver’s license, apply for public assistance, donate blood, or take out a loan. SSNs may also be used to access insurance records, track down student loan defaulters, compile direct marketing mailing lists, or identify convicted felons on lists of potential jurors.2 There is no single federal law that comprehensively regulates SSN collection and confidentiality.3
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What The Numbers Mean
The nine-digit Social Security number is divided into three parts. The first three numbers generally indicate the state of residence at the time a person applies for his or her first card. Originally, the lowest numbers were assigned to the New England states, and the numbers grew progressively higher in the South and West. However, in recent years, this geographical relationship has been disrupted somewhat by the need to allocate numbers out of sequence to certain growing and populous states. The middle two digits of a Social Security number have no special significance, but merely serve to break the numbers into blocks of convenient size. The last four characters represent a straight numerical progression of assigned numbers.
SSA has issued about 365 million Social Security numbers, and about 10 million new numbers are assigned each year. But even at this rate, there will be no need to reissue the same numbers, revise the present system, or devise a new numbering system for several generations. For this reason, SSA plans to continue using the nine-digit number.
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Can I Receive Credit For The Social Security Deductions Taken From Wages I Earned Before I Received My Own Ssn
Yes. This process is often referred to as unscrambling. The Social Security Administration will allow you to update your records and receive credit for earnings you may have made while using a different SSN. The SSA can assist you in this process. For more information on what you need to update your records, visit
Who Can Lawfully Request My Social Security Number
The dramatic rise in identity theft over the last several years has resulted in many changes to the list of people and businesses that are legally entitled to request a Social Security number .
Not long ago, people provided their Social Security numbers without a second thought. Criminals took advantage of that complacency, and as a result, the federal government established the Identity Theft Task Force in 2006. One of the first recommendations the task force made was decreasing the unnecessary use of Social Security numbers. Much work remains in overcoming old procedures and habits in this regard, but any progress on this issue is better than the status quo.
Who has the right to request your SSN? Federal law mandates that state Departments of Motor Vehicles, tax authorities, welfare offices, and other governmental agencies request your SS number as proof that you are who you claim to be. However, the Privacy Act of 1974 requires that government agencies at the local, state, and federal level disclose to each person whether submitting your Social Security number is required, details on the use of this information, and what law or authority requires its use.
Please note that this Act stipulates that no one can deny you a government service or benefit for failing to provide your SSN unless federal law specifically requires it.
You aren’t legally required to provide your SSN to businesses unless one of the following is true:
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How Long Does It Take To Get A Copy Of Your Social Security Card
about two weeksIt typically takes about two weeks between the time you report the loss to having a new Social Security card in your hand. Even better news, replacing a lost or stolen Social Security card is free. The Social Security Administration outlines three basic steps: Learn what documents you need.
Why does my employer need my social security card?
Employers often ask to see an employees Social Security card. While not required, SSA provides a service for employers to verify a name and SSN for wage reporting purposes when you want additional assurance of an employees correct name and SSN.
When You Have To List Your Social Security Number
If giving your Social Security number is a required field on an online application, leaving the answer blank may not be an option. Before filling in your Social Security number, make sure you are on the companys legitimate site. If you are applying for the job through a job search site, consider researching or calling the company before applying to confirm that the posting is legitimate.
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Who Can Lawfully Request Your Social Security Number
Is it legal for someone to ask for your Social Security number? The answers yes, but not everyones entitled to know your SSN.
According to Title 31 of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations , an individual shall not be denied a right or benefit because the person refused to disclose his or her SSN.
But it doesnt apply to the disclosure required by federal statute and disclosure to any Federal, State, or local agency maintaining records to verify the identity of an individual.
Here are the government agencies legally authorized to ask for your SSN.
When Applying For A Job
If there is a space on the job application for your Social Security number you are under no obligation to provide it. Since the organization you are applying to is not yet your employer they have no legitimate reason for having this information.
They can ask â and many will because it makes it easier for them to do a background check on you â but you are under no obligation to provide it even if there is one of those nifty little red stars next to the box that indicates you have to.
If you are refused a job because you did not provide a Social Security number on the application you have grounds to sue. So when is the right time to provide a potential employer with your SSN? When they have informed you they intend to hire you. Not before.
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State Laws Affecting Ssn Confidentiality And Disclosure
A number of states have enacted statutes that restrict the use or display of SSNs in various contexts, including restricting companies and individuals from posting or publicly displaying SSNs, printing them on cards, transmitting them over the Internet, or mailing them without safety measures. California was the first state to pass such a law that bars certain businesses, such as insurance companies, from publicly displaying SSNs.111 The California law also prohibits printing an SSN on identification cards 112 printing SSNs on documents mailed to customers, except under certain circumstances and requiring persons to use an SSN to log onto a website without a password.113 Other states, including Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia, have passed laws similar to California’s law.114 Some states have gone further in protecting SSNs, including restricting the solicitation of SSNs by private companies,115 prohibiting disclosure of SSNs or any number derived therefrom,116 or subjecting a truncated SSN to the same restrictions on display and transfer as the full SSN.117
Privacy In America: Social Security Numbers
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably given out your Social Security number several times in the past few weeks. Chances are you didn’t even know you had a choice in the matter. And anyway, it’s such a convenient form of identification, you probably didn’t think twice about it.
But you should.
SSNs were originally created to number personal accounts for Social Security, tax collection and benefits payment. But today, SSNs have become a too-common identifier.
An ever-growing number of computer networks let organizations sell, store, transfer and link our personal and business information — usually without our knowledge or consent. It’s become way too easy for government agencies and private organizations to trace each of us, from cradle to grave.
The details of our personal lives belong to us — they’re no one else’s business.
MY NUMBER, MYSELF
Whether you’ve paid taxes, opened a bank account, been accepted for a credit card, joined a gym or a shopping club, or applied for a video rental card, a driver’s license or a mortgage, chances are you’ve been asked for — and given out — your SSN. That seems innocent enough.
But because the SSN is so commonly used as an individual account number, this nine-digit code ends up being a virtual pass key to a vast amount of private, and often sensitive, information about you — your address, medical history, shopping preferences, household income, and use of prescription drugs, to name just a few.
WHO’S GOT YOUR NUMBER
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