Who Really Needs Your Social Security Number?

Who Really Needs Your Social Security Number?

Believe it or not, Social Security numbers were not intended to be used for identification when they were introduced in 1936. But, some 75 plus years later, nearly every form we fill out asks for our Social Security number. To reduce your risk of identity theft, you should only disclose your number when absolutely necessary. Since the advent of Social Security, many federal and state government agencies have begun to require Social Security numbers. While many federal and state agencies are required to obtain your number, some are not. If an agency requests your number, it must tell you the following:

  • Whether or not you are required to provide your number;
  • How your number will be used; and
  • The specific law that gives them the power to request it.

In addition to government agencies, some private businesses (including insurance agencies) must obtain your Social Security number. Generally, private businesses must obtain your number if you’re engaged in a transaction with any type of tax implication. Additionally, if businesses could potentially launder money or fund terrorism, Social Security numbers are required by law. If a private business must obtain your number, it should be able to explain why.

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