Guard Your Social Security Number Against Theft
There was a time when a person’s Social Security number (SSN) was considered confidential. More and more, though, businesses, utilities, health clubs, video stores, schools, doctor’s offices and just about everybody else ask for it as a form of identification simply because everyone has one.
Why should you care who sees your SSN? The more people see it, the more susceptible you are to becoming a victim of identity theft.
Anyone can ask for your SSN, but there are few entities that can actually demand it. Some that can are motor vehicle departments, tax departments, and welfare departments, for example. Also, SSNs are required for transactions involving taxes, so that means credit unions and other financial institutions, brokerages, employers and others who report tax information have a legitimate need for your SSN.
Most other businesses have no legal right to demand your number. The Social Security Administration (SSA) suggests that you ask if they’ll accept an alternative piece of identification. Many will, but if they don’t, the SSA recommends you take your business elsewhere. As identity theft continues to grow, consumers need to do everything they can to protect themselves against this growing threat.