Is asking for a SSN# illegal?

Is asking for a SSN# for validation purposes illegal? Someone I work with claims that it is. I’m in Illinois if that makes any difference.

Here’s the situation. I occasionally have to give out support ID’s (GOD ID) on our MVS system. For this to work I need three things. The user’s ID, their last name and SSN#. All three of these things must match the users ACF profile to obtain one. The support person is refusing to give up his SSN. In light of what’s going on with identity theft lately, I don’t blame him. Granted our system should probably ask for like the last 4 digits. But that’s not how it’s set up. But everytime this guy calls he refuses to give it up saying, “it’s illegal, I don’t have to”. Your right, you don’t have to, but when you don’t, you don’t get a support ID. Even though I can do a lookup in ACF to get it anyway, I have to know that you’re not some terrorist, ok?

Anyway, this person firmly believes it’s illegal to require this for authentication. I’m not looking to know whether it’s wrong or not, just is it illegal.

Here’s what Cecil has to say:

Why does my old social security card say it can’t be used as ID?

Page at PrivacyRights on SSN. They say it’s not illegal since there aren’t particular laws regarding this for private businesses.

Given that, his profile can’t be changed to have an arbitrary number instead?

Methinks your caller is confusing the application of The Privacy Act of 1974 which requires government agencies to state the authority under which they can ask for SSN and private companies asking for SSNs.

As for Illinois law I have no idea. I will mention that California has a law against displaying SSN on correspondence so it is possible Illinois as a law against asking for it. But I doubt it if insurance and medical companies can.

It is not illegal to ask, and it is not illegal to refuse to give it. I understand why people ask for it- no two numbers are the same, so it works very well as a user ID.

If what you are doing is optional to the customer but you reasonably need the number to conduct business and you require it of everyone, I think you can require it legally.

Giving your SSAN number to someone who needs it is NOT the same as printing it in a newspaper or on a webpage.

I guess your customer has never applied for a mortgage or insurance, been admitted into a hospital, been employed or opened a bank account.

No it doesn’t work well at all. First of all, there are the security issues. Unless it has to to with taxes/SS/etc. no one, not even a health insurance company, should be using it.

Secondly, they are not unique. Not only are there people out there illegally using other’s SSNs, for reasons the SSA cannot explain, they actually hand out duplicates from time to time. It becomes a real benefits nightmare.

Thirdly, not everybody has one. There’s a lot of foreign nationals in the US who don’t have taxable income and don’t need one (or can’t even get one). Students, diplomats, etc.

In short, don’t trust anyone else’s ID number system. Always develop your own in house one.

This group of computer users doesnt seem to think theres anything wrong with using SSN for databases. The recommend identifiers because SSNs arent really unique.

Its illegal to misuse someone elses SSN,

but it seems ok with the govy to allow SSNs to be used for computer databases and identity checks. Banks use it all the time.

The govt seems to more interested in making sure your earnings are safe from theft or fraud. I would think that if someone else is using my SSN to illegal work in this country, its a good thing for me because he’s pumping money into my retirement.

It seems straightforward as to what happens when you refuse to give your number. You dont get the service.

I hate the fact that Virginia DMV used my SSN for my driver’s license number.

Lots of states do that. I don’t know why.

CA doesn’t, and I’ve had my DL# memorized for almost as long as my SSN.

When I went to Cal State Hayward in the 80’s, my SSN was my student ID #, and it was printed as part of the mailing label on everything they sent me. I’ve given my SSN out to everybody who’s ever asked for it. It’s just been in the past few years that people have been saying it’s supposed to be confidential.

Too late.

[hijack]Virginia now no longer does this. There is a block to check when you get your license. My VA license starts with T.[/hijack]

I’m a foreign student in the US on an F1 visa, and i know plenty of other foreign students here at my university. We all have SSNs, and were required to have one before registering for the first time.

Are there other categories of student that don’t need SSNs?

That cite by Slayer is a lot like the duct tape defense. Of course you should use care with your SSAN but it’s not like hundreds of thousands of people have had their credit ruined by SSAN fraud.
The actual number is more like a few thousand, out of 280 million.

The IRS for years certainly didn’t think this was all that big of issue. They used to send out the forty million tax booklets with our SSAN on the outside.


SSN = Social Security Number


“SSN#” and “SSN number” are examples of redundant acronyms.


My college used to “require” it. But if you refused to give it they would assign you a number. The catch was you had to save it to retrieve your records. I didn’t give mine. 10 years later it took me FOREVER to get my records as I forgot my issued number and that is how it was stored.

What would I do without you?

I’m trying to figure out why, as a sole proprietor, with a federal EIN, vendors still want my SSN!

I think these folk know entirely too much about moi.

::hide in cave with up-pointed middle finger smiley::