Posted on 2015-06-10 09:00:48
Keeping your personal data personal can be challenging. It’s almost certainly already out there in a lot of places. With identity theft commonplace today, it’s important to learn when to say No, especially when asked for your Social Security number. Social Security numbers used to be the standard identification number used by just about everyone. They are unique, making them a convenient way to identify individuals. But, Social Security numbers are a key piece of information used by identity thieves to create new identities. It is especially important to safeguard your Social Security number today. There are entities that still need your Social Security number today, such as state motor vehicle departments, welfare offices and tax authorities use Social Security numbers to verify identities. Social Security numbers are required by businesses such as banks that report to the IRS. And Social Security numbers are the key identifier used by credit card issuers and on credit reports, so lenders and landlords may need them.
Who else really needs your Social Security number today? One thing is for sure. It’s not everyone who asks for it. Many businesses continue to ask for it just because that’s the way it was done in the past. They might not even use it for anything, but it’s there in your file where it can potentially fall into the wrong hands. With the risk of identity theft so high, consumers need to be on guard. When someone asks for your Social Security number, ask why they might need it. If you aren’t satisfied with the answer, say “No.” Here are a few places where your Social Security number should not be required: Public schools. Your address can be confirmed with a utility bill. Rewards programs. Rewards programs are not financial obligations. They are merely marketing tools and should not require your Social Security number. Job applications. It’s not until you are hired that an employer needs your Social Security number. However, some employers now check credit reports as part of the hiring progress, and they would need your Social Security number to do so. But, your permission is required. It may be hiding in the fine print. There is no need to go to extremes. Using common sense before providing your Social Security number can minimize your risk of becoming an identity theft victim. Recognize that some entities have a legitimate need and right to it, but others are just asking out of habit, ignorance or with evil intent. Keep identity theft in the back of your mind before handing it over.