if a landlord only wants to verify identity, can he insist I present my social security card?

Not for a credit check. I met the person through craigslist btw, but he is willing to meet in person

He can insist whatever he likes. You are free to say no, and he is equally free not to rent to you if you do.

Many landlords run a credit check, for which they probably do legitimately require your SSN. Not really sure why he might want to see the actual card but I guess it can help prove you are who you say you are.

How many people have an actual card? Sure, I know my SSN, but I can’t remember ever having a physical card.

I can’t speak as a landlord, but as an employer we can. The reason is that your photo ID proves that the name you gave me belongs to you and the SS card proves that the SSN you gave me is associated with your name. A passport (amongst other things) will work as well.
(Cite: Federal Form I-9)

so, given the person is from craigslist (although a google search shows that the person is fairly reputable in a life outside of subleting), is it likely that he will scam me after he has my name dob and ssn?

I curious about how you would establish someone on Craigslist is whoever they say they are? I helped a friend set up a account on craigslist and I don’t remember anything they checked except to verify the email address.

Many employers and universities require that prospective employees and students provide the actual physical card to verify the actual SS#.

I have a physical card, but keep it filed away in our safe deposit box. They are a hassle to get replacements.


IMHO, there is no need for a potential landlord to know your SSN. It’s not a legal ID.

As much as the SSA may hate it (and they really, REALLY hate it) the fact is that Social Security numbers have become the de facto personal ID number in the United States.

You’re supposed to have a card.

You are correct. And as someone who has endured potential identity theft thanks to my bank’s ineptitude, I nit pick every time someone wants something about me.

I got a SS card when I was 16, but the physical card has long since disappeared and I don’t believe I have ever used it or been asked for it. It was trivial to replace then (also trivial to get) and I never thought about it.

I manage some apartments. We need the number to run a credit check, but I’ve never needed to see the actual card. We have been lucky to avoid situations where a falsified or appropriated SSN was given to us. The physical cards don’t seem like they have any security features.

We advertize available apartments on Craigslist. I’ve never been questioned about whether I’m actually the property manager, but the prospective tenants always have to come in person to the actual apartment.

From Social Security Administration Publication #05-10001 (Aug 1984):

So what EristicKallistic said: You don’t have to give the number, and then he doesn’t have to rent to you.

Asking for the actual card is unusual.
I have it stored away somewhere. I also have a scan of it on my computer. At least one employer was happy to accept an email of that scan in place of the physical card.

I have had a job (state of PA-related) for which I did have to present an actual card. I worked for a couple of weeks in a sort of intermediary ‘we can’t pay you’ mode until I got the replacement card I had to order.

I have had to present my SS card every single time I gained employment with a new company. Every single time.

Just another data point, I got my card when I was 12, then when I got my current job, that card wasn’t good enough. I had to get one of the new ones. They still let me start, but if I hadn’t gotten the new one, I’d have been let go during my probationary period. The new ones have some anti-counterfeiting features. The old one was just a paper card with the number typewritten on it.

Guess I’m lucky to be self-employeed.

Interesting. I just got a new card and it looks just like my old one. Maybe a bit bigger, but still paper.

I got my SS card in 1975. I still have the original card, which I have carried in my wallet for nearly 36 years now. I have needed to show it for almost every job I’ve ever had.