Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Social InSecurity

Notice the growing numbers of competitors vying to lock up your identity—for a fee-- so that it is forever protected from nefarious thieves? No doubt—identity threat is a real and serious and growing problem. But what is to blame for the spiraling number of cases? The seeds of this kudzu vine were sown decades ago when, almost insidiously, more companies and entities started asking for Social Security numbers. Were we not always told, “Do Not Use Your Social Security Number for Identification Purposes”? Over time, however, more of us have been asked more frequently for our social security numbers---colleges, medical practitioners (including dentists), banks (understandably—but this started long before 9/11) utility companies, veterinarians, all want to know the number we were told we should never give out.

You can refuse in some cases but you have to be aware of this option. Here is what the Social Security websites states:

You should be very careful about sharing your number and card to protect against misuse of your number. Giving your number is voluntary even when you are asked for the number directly. If requested, you should ask:
Why your number is needed;
How your number will be used;
What happens if you refuse; and
What law requires you to give your number.
The answers to these questions can help you decide if you want to give your Social Security number. The decision is yours.

1 comment:

MB said...

I am in a position that gives me access to endless SS#'s and other personal information. Fortunately, I am a very honest person. However it worries me to think of other individuals in a position like mine, that could greatly abuse the information they have available. Although I use the information for payroll processing, which is what the SS# is actually for, I cringe on the fact that Walmart wanted my sons number for his fishing license. I thought that was one of the times you could refuse to give it. Unfortunately, after researching the PA fish and game commission, the guy at Walmart won and got the number.Why exactly would they need that for someone to be able to fish?