10 Places to Never Share Your Social Security Number
SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS OPEN DOORS TO ID THEFT
One rule of thumb to keeping your identity — and that of your loved ones — secure: Don’t share your Social Security number (SSN) unless it’s absolutely required!
Most of the time, it’s okay to say “no” to schools, doctor’s offices, sports clubs, and other organizations that ask for your unique, nine-digit identifier. Safeguarding SSNs is a key first step to avoiding identity theft, fraud, lost finances, and damaged credit.
Identity theft continues to plague consumers across the United States. In 2020, 1.4 million consumers reported identity fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with $3.3 billion lost. Stolen SSNs make it easy for criminals to commit identity fraud, enabling them to open new lines of credit and accounts, file fraudulent tax returns, secure medical care, and steal government benefits.
Here are 10 places that should not have need of your Social Security number:
- Job applications
- Hospitals or medical and dental offices
- Public schools
- Sports clubs
- Children’s camps
- Supermarket loyalty programs
- Airline ticketing and frequent flyer programs
- Email messages
SECURE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
Unsure how to respond when someone asks for this highly sensitive number? We recommend following these steps:
- Stop and think. Take a moment to consider if there is a legitimate need for the SSN. Many places blindly ask for it, but some places, such as the IRS, Department of Motor Vehicles or military, may legitimately need it.
- Negotiate. There are other identifiers, such as a driver’s license or account number, that may be used instead. Ask if they are acceptable.
- Get assurance. If you must share your SSN, make sure there are strong security measures in place to protect it.
If you think you’ve been victimized after your Social Security number has been exposed by a data breach or lost or stolen Social Security card, it’s important to be proactive. To protect what matters most, some of the important steps include placing a fraud alert on your credit, continuously reviewing your financial statements, and using a comprehensive identity theft protection service.