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Home / Finances / It’s Midnight, Do You Know Where Your Social Security Number Is?


Most people know exactly where there social security card is at all times, but do you know where your social security number is and who has it at all times? Probably not! We are asked for our number fairly often…to confirm our identity, verify access to accounts, etc. Surrendering our number is so ingrained in our psyche that we do so without protesting, but which time will we be surrendering it to an identity thief?

The only way to prevent that is to stop giving out your number. The problem with that is there are so many services that truly depend on our number for access. So, how do you know which ones require the number, prefer to have the number, or have no reasons to ask for it? Just say no.

The easiest way to refuse to give your number is to be passive. Simply do not enter it on a form. If it is a critical piece of information, you will be asked for it again. There are times when it is impossible to avoid giving your social security number. Here are a few examples of when you have no choice but to surrender your number.

Federal Assistance

Any type of federal assistance requires your social security number, so when you apply for unemployment, welfare, social security, WIC, or student aid, you will need to surrender that critical number, repeatedly.

Credit Checks & Applications

Credit applications require your social security number. There is no avoiding it, but you can reduce your potential exposure to identity theft. Never fill out a paper application. All legitimate credit card companies and the majority of banks have online applications that you can access. A paper application can be stolen, especially if you fill it out at the checkout counter of a retailer. Never fill out an online application when connected to public wi-fi. Always use a secure, password protected connection.

Potential employers are increasingly performing credit checks prior to making offers. That means you could have multiple entities submitting your number during a job search. The number of people in possession of your number increases if you freelance, since each client will need your number for tax purposes. Freelancers can reduce their exposure by obtaining a federal taxpayer identification number to submit instead of their social security number.

Credit and Background Checks Go Beyond the Credit World

The list of agencies that require your number is nearly endless. If you volunteer for to work with children or the elderly, a background check will need to be performed. Your broker, landlord, and the IRS all require your number. Quite a list isn’t it?

So, how does all of this tie into the title? As you can see, hundreds of companies can have your social security on file. There is no feasible way to keep track of every place you apply for credit or assistance as well as all of the affiliates that they will share your information with. The best you can do is to monitor your credit report and accounts for anomalies. You can check your accounts daily. You can check your credit report for free here. If you check your report from one agency every four months, you can monitor your profile year-round.


About the author: Jerry Coffey


Jerry Coffey spent many years in a debt-riddled gray area somewhere between broke and desperately broke. His seemingly endless need for more and more cash led him to payday loans, repossessions, bankruptcy, and depression. After years of the same financial style, he heard a piece of advice that inspired him to find a way to change. The advice: ''The very definition of a fool is someone who continues to do the same things, but expects different results.'' This led him to a much more frugal lifestyle that sees all of his bills paid on time and a growing savings account. Even the seed of a retirement account has begun to sprout.


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