Since more government and private business is now conducted on the Web, it seems like everybody wants to know our Social Security number. But do you need to give it to them? There are really only two instances when your Social Security is absolutely required: When seeking employment and when establishing a bank account. Ever since the IRS began to use SS numbers as a primary taxpayer identifier in 1962, employers can’t hire you without one. And banks are subject to reporting laws for large transactions so they aren’t likely to give you an account without one. If you need credit, you will need to provide your number to a credit issuer so they can obtain your credit report, otherwise, you will find it difficult, or very expensive to obtain it.
Other than that, there is no reason for anyone else to require your SS number. Of course, that doesn’t prevent them from asking. Some businesses use it as an identifier, but unless they are likely to transact business with you through your employer, the IRS or your bank, they really have no need for it. In those instances, you may be denied access to the business’ services or products.
If you feel you need to provide your Social Security number make sure it is a trusted business. And, if you need to submit it online, make sure the site is secure. And, most certainly, never give your number in response to an email request.
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