The tyranny of the Social Security Number!

I have noticed that it is virtually impossible to go about my business without being asked for my SSN, over and over again. This widespread use of SSN’s has no legal basis, and has led to this number becoming the defacto equivalent of a national identity card. I thought the SSN was never intended to function as a personal ID number. I thought it was to identify a specific Retirement Account - Not An Individual!

As for using the SSN Card for ID purposes, the SSN card bore a disclaimer on the card stating “not for identification”. This was true until the early 1980s. Cards issued since that time have not carried that caveat. When I was in the military, they used my SSN as my service number instead of another number like the one my grandfather got when he was in the Army 50 years ago. The federal civil service issued a regulation requiring all federal government agencies to begin using the SSN as the empoyee ID number. Then the IRS began requiring it as a file number on all tax documents. Now some states require it on Drivers licenses. Private sector businesses jumped on the band wagon, health insurance companies used it as the patient ID number on cards carried by the insured. Credit grantors began requiring the number on credit applications and even reprogrammed their computers to use the number as an identifier. Universities and schools use the SSN now to identify school records.

Soon, nearly, everyone, from library to the video rental store was using the number to ID individuals.

So, Why is this number so prized as an identifier, and why does that very fact make it totally unsuitable as a secure identifier? Can I refuse to give my number when asked and not be refused service or benefits from whatever source when asked for it?

With a few exception, you can refuse to give your social security number to anyone. When you do, you may be denied services. Whether such denial is legal will (as always) depend on your location. As a general rule, however, such denial will probably be legal. You cannot refuse to give your employer your SSN because they must report your income (so that you eventually get a benefit). At that point, your number will usually be transmitted to your health insurance company through your employer’s health plan. Getting them to change the number (to a random number which is assigned to you and is not your SSN) is a real pain in the ass and usually fruitless. Besides that situation, use of the SSN is usually optional, but, again, a company could refuse to provide services to you if you won’t give them the all-important number.

Sorry. Just the reality of living in the good ol’ U S of A.

Can I claim Religious objection to using my SSN? I figure since the US Constitution recognizes the separation of Church and State. I notice that some qoute Revelations, and say they believe that the SSN is the “mark of the beast,” that people will have to accept in order to buy or sell goods. What about a taxpayer ID number?

Actually, while the ss CARD is not supposed to be used as an identifier, nothing really says the number can’t be used for ID purposes. In almost all cases, you are better to provide the number than not, especially if with a reputable company.

Just as you hand over your credit card to any clerk…or a waiter who walks away with it, you often will need to part with your SSN. For credit bureaus, not having an ssn on file would help people commit fraud against you, as long as they knew your name and adress.

If ssn were to stopped being used, then suddenly you would not want to give out your name and adress, as they would become very very very valuable identifiers! Heck, that’s all a criminal would need!

No matter what number/code/whatever you use to identify yourself, after doing biz in the real world, it would be all over the place. And if it wasn’t an ssn, and some other number/code, it would still be all over.

The more identifiers used, the more difficult to defraud you. by REDUCING the number of identifiers, you increase the possibility of being defrauded.

The language on the cards about identification was meant as a warning that one should not necessarily assume that a person was who he or she claimed to be merely because they were in possession of a card. This was largely because, until relatively recent times, the Social Security Administration did not require people to show proof of identity when being issued a replacement card.




…checking out some MPSIMS threads now…

Actually it was the NUMBER not the card that wasn’t used for I.D. purposes. That is just a convenient out for the SS Admin. As the previous poster stated they really didn’t start to check the process of getting a SS# till the 80s. In fact the only reason I got one was my father died in 1976 and I needed it to collect benefits. I never used it again (outside of a job) till I got credit cards in the late 80s. My college didn’t use it.

I recall I could have gotten as many numbers as I wanted in the 70s. It was the NUMBER that wasn’t used for ID. They later dropped that restriction.

If you ask you would be suprised at how many people ask and don’t need it. My video store asked for it. I said no, so they use my phone number. When I went to vote they asked for it. I said no, they said OK. I still voted. I asked them to drop it off my State ID they did so without any question.

I do think with the amount of CC fraud that something needs to be done about it.

Yes, your right. In theory, each SSN should ID only one individual. In theory, people should only have one SSN, and no two people should have the same SSN. This is not true, there have been numerous cases of two people being assigned the same SSN, and people can get multiple SSN’s.

When the system was created in 1935, a numbering system was devised that would not allow the retirement accounts of people with identical names and even, in some cases, identical birthdates, from being confused. Also to accomodate the evergrowing population growth from around 100 million then to nearly 300 million now.

Because most uses of the SSN are not authorized by law, the number itself is never verified by the SSA and in fact in most cases that would be illegal. So in essence Identity thieves can appropraite another persons identity by simply approprating their SSN. With little knowledge, an imposter can make up a SSN, and start a credit history, open bank accounts, and use bogus SSN for most needs. Only few places actually verify SSN numbers!