At this point in time, we have all heard of Social Security numbers. By now, I hope you understand the gist of what a Social Security number is. According to SSA GOV, Social Security numbers were created in 1936. Originally, the Social Security number kept track of earning in the USA. Boy, how times have changed.
We get our S.S. number at birth. This number is, in a sense, your life number. Social Security numbers are the universal identifier – a lifeline in nine digits.
Most of us learn, pretty early on, about the importance of a Social Security number.
True Story – Growing up, my mother kept our social security cards in a fireproof safe. This safe was located in a secret hiding spot. This proved how valuable our Social Security cards are.
At an early age, my mother taught us the importance of safeguarding our S.S.N. We learned to keep our Social Security numbers safe, secure (never keep this card on you), and private. Your nine digits are your primary personal identification numbers. These nine digits hold the key, the key to your accounts and private information.
Why is Social Security in jeopardy?
As technology has developed, vulnerability and access to identity theft increase. However, many people are getting “careless” about securing their Social Security numbers. Why? Personally, I believe is that there are two reasons why consumers give their Social Security number up so willingly.
The first reason being that users trust in technology. We are often “forgetful” about the trust dangers of technology. Many believe that technology, in a sense, protects us and makes life easier. This statement has some truth behind it. For example, we use our mobile devices for almost everything other than the intended purpose (Yes, your phone can be hacked!). We are all human, meaning that we are not perfect and will make mistakes.
The second reason is that humans created technology…catch my drift? Mistakes can happen. The more advanced our devices are, the higher our vulnerability is for identity thieves and hackers.
This habit needs breaking!
Many consumers have what I refer to as a “habit.” When asked for your Social Security number at a hospital, you normally would respond without thinking twice. What if your social security number ends up in the wrong hands? Do you know who exactly you should be giving your Social Security Number to?
Here are 5 examples of circumstances that you are NOT required to give your Social Security number to:
“Healthcare providers and others ask for your SSN because it’s easier for them to track unique individuals that way,” said Mark Nunnikhoven, vice president of cloud research for TrendMicro, an information security company.
You do not have to give your SSN to your school. However, you are required to if you’re applying for financial aid. The requirements for registering students are:
- A birth certificate
- A driver’s license
- A passport (if applicable)
- Bills providing your home information, such as your parent’s name and address
But, were you aware that it’s illegal for public schools, and colleges, to “require” a Social Security numbers to attend UNLESS your applying for Financial Aid?
When booking your getaway, only your credit card is required. This CC pays for the trip or to put on file for incidentals. For example, booking a room at a hotel should never require a Social Security number to complete the purchase. If anyone is asking for your Social Security number in this situation, I would consider that a scam…be alert!
Over the phone request
If a business calls you asking for your Social Security number, no matter THE REASON, do not, I repeat, do not give up any information. Simply hang up.
Loyalty cards are still widely popular among retail stores. For example, you may get an offer to start saving money by using pharmacy loyalty cards or supermarket loyalty cards? Well, listen up! You DO NOT HAVE TO disclose your social security number.
Sad Truth: The saddest part about this is that some business might refuse to serve you if you do not provide your Social Security number. Crazy? Nope, just life. Stay calm in these situations. An alternative would be to ask if they will use your ID number rather than your Social Security number in your documentation.
You’re probably wondering – “Well, who should I give my social security number to then?”
Drum roll, please … Below you will find 5 places that you absolutely must give your Social Security number to when applying…
The federal government provides some guidance by specifying that you’re only required to give out the number in specific circumstances:
Filing income taxes
Providing your S.S.N. number is required for filing income taxes. The government uses Social Security Numbers to track your social security contributions and net income.
Entering into an employment situation
Your Social Security Number is required in this situation. Employers use S.S.Ns for…
- Conducting a background check
- Conducting a credit check
- Tax purposes
Conducting business through financial institutions
The federal government requires that all financial institutions obtain Social Security Numbers for their customers. This is for…
- Checking your credit
- Reporting interest and investments to the IRS
- Reporting any tax-deductible mortgages to the IRS
Applying for government benefits
Assistant programs, like unemployment benefits or disability payments, are managed by the federal government. They use your S.S.N. to keep track of all government benefits. They also use Social Security numbers to ensure that benefits are going to the proper person.
Applying for a driver’s license or passport
The federal government requires your S.S.N. number to be displayed when applying for both of these personal identification items. If you do not have an S.S. card to display with your application, you will likely experience delays or denials.
Preventing your Social Security number from hackers is not as hard as difficult as we make it seem to be. Looking for more ways to protect yourself against IDT? Read our previous blog about 10 ways you can prevent Identity Theft.