SSN and renting apartments

So a friend of mine is looking to rent an apartment and she mentioned that for the credit check, they require her to have a picture or photocopy of her social security card. It sounds a little fishy to me since I’ve never had to give out a copy of the actual card itself for a credit check on an apartment or even a job. Am I being overly paranoid or does this sound fishy to anyone else?

For the record, she has checked out the apartment with her roommate and from their reports, it’s in a nice area, it’s a good apartment and the rent’s pretty damn decent so I think they really would like it to work out.

It could be a check against people using fake or stolen Social Security numbers.

That’s the only plausible option that I could think of too. I haven’t talked to my friend yet, but it looks like everything else is legit so far. Maybe I’m really just being overly paranoid after all, there’s not much other information on the card itself. Thanks, garygnu.

My Social Security card says right on it that it is not to be used for ID.

I don’t show the card at all, and I only give the number to people or businesses that will be giving me money (obviously, they need it to report to the IRS).

When I got my current job, I had to produce my original SS card for the company.
It is a way to keep them from unknowingly employing illegals.

My experience with large, property-management companies that run apartment complexes is that they will not rent to you without a copy of a SS card or a letter from SS confirming your SSN (which you get while they mail you out a new card).

They need to positively identify you so that when you fall back on rent, they can move to the courts without haste. They want to be able to have you in court within a month of you falling behind, and having this paperwork (copies of SSN) makes serving and processing go smoothly.

Ah, that makes sense then. I’ve never rented from a large property management company so I wasn’t aware of this practice. I’m glad that my suspicions weren’t well founded.

Thanks to everyone for their answers and for preventing me from worrying my friend too much.

Actually, the warning that used to appear on the card is with regard to the number itself, not how the physical card is to be used. The government didn’t want the SSN to be used as a national ID number, only for actually Social Security business or tax purposes. But things have changed. It is a little unusual to demand to see the actual card but I can understand why a business would ask for it, if they have a legitimate need to have your SSN in the first place. I don’t even know where mine is.

It’s not illegal for a business to request a social security card or number. However, you’re not required to show it. If you don’t, they won’t rent you the place. You’re free to look for an apartment complex that doesn’t require you to give them your social security number. Or, live in the street.

Many businesses use social security numbers for credit checks. The three big credit reporting agencies use your social security number as a way of tracking your credit history. so if someone wants to check your credit history, they need your SSN.

Apartment complexes run by property management companies will run a credit check, but they just need your basic personal info plus SSN, not the actual card for that purpose.

Having the the card takes it one level higher, because many characters will provide another SSN (friend, family member, etc), and there are a fair number of very questionable people who show up with all sorts of crazy docs, and the management company doesn’t what to be stuck not knowing Jack from Jackie, Juan from Juanita, or Joan from John.

It gets to be chaos when they need to serve, sue, evict, etc, if they don’t put some effort into properly identifying people.

They also ask for bank acc’t information, to ensure another level of identity and ability to pay.

Well, there’s the number, which can be used to commit identity theft.

Depending on how you feel about having copies of your SS around, you can always just show it to them in person and not allow them to take a photocopy - they may go for that

I’m not aware of something where a copy of your SSN is needed for a court proceeding or for service of process.

So… requiring that the applicant produce the physical card is meant to increase the likelihood that the SSN they give is actually theirs.


From what everyone else is telling me, sounds like it. I’m used to giving out my social security number itself for credit checks and background checks, it’s just when my friend told me that they require the actual production of the card itself that it threw me for a loop.

Rumor_Watkins, she’ll be going on a trip right after submitting the application, so I don’t think she’ll have time to make an extra trip down, but I’ll suggest your idea to her anyway, thanks.

Just as additional observation as a property manager, I’ve had a fair number of prospective applicants back out when they found out a SSN and credit check were required. I also had a restaurateur want to rent an apartment for some of his employees, but it turned out those employees (probably) didn’t have legit SSNs.
I’m guessing it’s a once-burned effect by the management involved.

That’s the idea, but of course, they can be counterfeited. But asking for the card raises the barrier to fraud. I mean, where else can you just give a number?

“To serve you that drink, I need to see some ID.”
“Oh, my birthday is February 22, 1986.”
“Oh, OK, no problem then.”

“Sir, you were doing 90 in a 55. I need license and registration.”
“My driver’s license number is 16984A, and my license plate is 183 3DV.”

“Ma’am, I need to see your passport to allow you to board the plane.”
“My passport number is 1938754392.”
“Go right ahead.”


You don’t need a copy of an SSN card for a court proceeding.

What you need to run your property is to know who exactly is renting/leasing/signing, so that when you go to proceed with court action an actual person is linked to the lease so that eviction and collection can follow. It is just one more level of proof — that’s all.

Nothing the prop mgr does guarantees anything, but it is another level of due diligence and helps ensure the person leasing is who they say they are.

How can you serve someone when you don’t know who they are???