Social Safety numbers are each probably the most non-public and most helpful piece of private info we’ve.

Within the US, they’re nearly universally used as safety checks. However that is not what they have been supposed for. Issuing Social Safety numbers started within the Thirties as a solution to administer authorities retirement and incapacity advantages.

Over the a long time, although, the nine-digit codes have turn out to be important on the subject of getting a bank card, a house and even a paycheck. 

As a result of almost each US citizen and everlasting resident has a Social Safety quantity, they’re additionally the go-to authentication methodology for cell-service operators, utility corporations and different companies. That makes them a main goal for identification theft. An Equifax data breach in 2017 could have uncovered the Social Safety numbers of almost half of all Individuals. 

How have you learnt when it is best to — and should not — share your Social? We consulted the specialists. 

For extra on Social Safety, here is how to order a new Social Security card and access your Social Security benefits online.

When is it OK to share my Social Safety quantity?

Although it is essential to guard your Social Safety quantity, there are reputable causes for sharing these 9 digits.

“Any firm that you simply’re making use of to for a mortgage or line of credit score wants your quantity,” Paige Hanson, cyber security training chief at NortonLifeLock, mentioned in an interview. 

That features banks and credit score reporting businesses, Hanson mentioned, nevertheless it might additionally imply a cell-service supplier, since a cellphone contract is sort of a line of credit score.


Your Social Safety quantity can also be going to be necessary for something that triggers tax reporting, together with your employer reporting your wages to the IRS, mentioned Alan Butler, government director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit targeted on defending privateness and identification rights. 

You may must share it in case you have an funding adviser or are partaking in a money transaction of $10,000 or extra — like shopping for a automobile or home. 

Authorities businesses that present advantages can even request your quantity, together with the US Division of Labor and state businesses that administer Medicaid. These requests ought to include a disclosure type that explains whether or not the quantity is required or non-compulsory, confirms the company’s authority to ask for it and explains what it will be used for.

When ought to I not share my Social Safety quantity?

There are lots of extra cases if you should not supply up your Social Safety quantity. With the proliferation of phishing schemes, by no means give out your info in an e mail or over the cellphone.

“In the event you’re not initiating the decision, it is best to by no means share your private info,” NortonLifeLock’s Hanson mentioned. “Even when it seems prefer it’s coming from a legit firm you do enterprise with.”

Confirming the final 4 digits of your Social is decrease threat, Hanson mentioned, because it’s information an organization already has.

Not everybody asking on your quantity has unhealthy intentions: “Some companies simply need your code simply because it is a quicker solution to search for your account,” Hanson added. 

However that is not a adequate purpose for them to have it.

Others might want it in the event that they’re having you signal a contract, like a health club membership. “It is a neater solution to go to a collections company in the event that they must,” Hanson mentioned. “However there are different methods.” 

Whereas employers can ask on your Social, “it completely can’t be required to get a job,” Hanson mentioned. So it should not be on any job utility.

If they will not budge and you are not comfy giving them your private info, then do not. “Each time one other entity shops your Social, it is yet another probability for identification theft,” mentioned Butler. 

How can I shield my Social Safety quantity?

By the point you are an grownup, your Social Safety quantity has been entered into so many databases it is not possible to maintain it 100% safe. However there are steps consumers can take to raised shield their account numbers. 

Do not carry your Social Safety card in your pockets or purse. Hold it in a protected place at house. And shred any paperwork or items of mail that embody your quantity, fairly than simply throwing them out. Additionally, In the event you’re requested on your SSN, discover out why.

“You need to really feel empowered to ask, ‘Why do you want this? The place are you storing this?'” Hanson mentioned. “‘Is there one other piece of data I can use as a substitute?'”

Social Security number on form

If an organization asks on your Social Safety quantity, discover out if there’s an alternate type of identification you should utilize.

Getty Pictures

Hanson not too long ago took her daughter for a health care provider’s go to, and the shape on the counter requested each of their SSNs.

“There was actually no want for them,” Hanson mentioned. “So I left it clean on the shape and so they did not say something.”

One other solution to shield your Social Safety quantity is by “freezing” your credit score stories with Transunion, Equifax and Experian. 

If somebody tries to make use of your quantity to open a bank card or get a mortgage, the request on your credit score report can be declined. You may freeze your report indefinitely or set a selected “thaw” date. 

You must also often verify your stories for any unusual exercise — a free copy of all three is offered yearly from — and create an account on the Social Safety web site to see if anybody is accessing advantages utilizing your quantity.

What do I do if my Social Safety quantity has been compromised?

In the event you suppose you have been the sufferer of identification theft utilizing your Social Safety quantity, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission, your native police division and any companies which will have been given your quantity fraudulently.

In the event you suppose your quantity has been used illicitly to get a job or entry your tax return, you can too contact the Social Safety Administration at 800-772-1213 or go to the IRS’ identity theft site.

Although it is potential to get a brand new Social Safety quantity, it possible will not resolve all of your issues, according to the FTC.

“Typically getting a brand new quantity can go away you worse off,” Steve Toporoff with the FTC’s Division of Privateness and Id Safety mentioned in an announcement, “as a result of it’s good to contact all the federal government businesses, monetary establishments, credit score bureaus, well being insurers and different locations the place the previous Social Safety quantity could be used.”

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