Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Social Security Number (SSN) Privacy

What to do when they ask for your Social Security Number is the most complete and effective document I've seen about protecting your financial privacy by refusing to give your social security number to anyone who doesn't have a strict legal need for it. Taxes, banking, loan applications, and employer payroll records are among those legitimate reasons for requesting SSN's.

This outlines SSN history, legalities and how to avoid giving the number to those who have no true need for it. Businesses and especially low level individuals (clerks, registration desk staff) representing non-governmental or non-employment sources should be refused when they request your social security number.

I had been warned about this before taking a trip to Jamaica and had actually started to give my SSN to a tourist attraction registration desk clerk when I stopped myself and refused it. I saw a fake charge on my debit card when I returned home and got it removed and then had the card voided and replaced by my bank. I imagine that giving the SSN would have subjected me to far worse financial perils if I'd given it to that clerk when asked. How many unsuspecting tourists fall for that ruse?

I once refused to give my SSN to a YMCA to use their swimming pool. The clerk dutifully got the manager for me after insisting, "It's our policy". The manager agreed and apologized, asking me to leave if I wouldn't provide the SSN for their records! Do they protect those user SSN numbers from internal abuse or theft by employees? I doubt it and left the pool rather than providing that valuable number to an organization that had no legitimate need for it.

Don't volunteer your SSN to those who have no real need for that information. Legitimate needs would be for loan documents, tax information, employment purposes or banking uses.

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posted by RealitySEO at 1:00 PM


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