what are the dangers of someone else's knowing your social security number?

i lost my social security card once before.

today, someone who needed my social security number asked me to say it aloud while there was a stranger behind me.

if the stranger committed to memory, what can he do?
also, i lost my social security card once before; what are some possible consequence?
what if the same person has both an expired photo id and my ss card?

I don’t have an answer except STOP carrying around your SSN. Memorize it.

By itself there’s not much you can do with it, but used with other ID it can be very powerful.

The nicest thing is so many things are in databases and stored by your social security number. You can pull things so easy if you have the SS#. This is especially important if you’re name is John Smith or Jane Doe.

It’s also a qualifier for so many things. You know like enter your number, your zip code and the last four digits of your SS#

Lots and lots of people have access to your SSN#. I had access to literally millions of them in my last job. The average person couldn’t do much with it at all but, as described above, the U.S. doesn’t have a national ID number so the SSN is the primary key someone could use to look up other information in systems and do something, something with it. It is a real threat in a way but they can’t take cash out of your bank account with it either without several other targeted steps. I think I have gone full circle with most of this. I work in IT positions that require a security clearance and I realize that there are so many people that have access to a given person’s information that it becomes hopeless to focus on one thing. You don’t have to be an information slut but it is still much easier for a waiter to steal a credit card number than a hacker in Russia for example.

Not so much unless they have already decided to steal your Identity.

But losing your SSN card is very bad as it can take the SocSec 2 months or more to get you a new one, and in that time you can’t get a new job, in many cases. Or other stuff. So, keep it very safe.

If the total stranger memorized it- nothing. UNLESS he was standing there with the idea of overhearing SSNs, etc, like at a bank.

Why did that person need you to say it aloud rather than write out part of it?:confused:

(Bolding and emphasis mine.) http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10002.html#protect

A malicious person with your SSN alone won’t be able to do much. They can’t, for example, access your current bank accounts (though with other personal information and some good social engineering they might). A bigger threat is that they can simply open up new accounts in your name, as long as they’ve got enough of your personal information to fill out a credit application. So they now have a credit card or loan in your name and a probably bogus address. They get as much money out as they can, and then just disappear. Well, now there’s a loan in default that’s attached to YOUR credit report, and collection agencies will track YOU down.

However, you can dispute such debts and get them wiped from your credit history, though sometimes that’s not easy.

That’s basically what happened to my wife. Our cleaning lady got hold of my wife’s social security number, got a bunch of store credit cards in my wife’s name (but using her own street address and telephone number), purchased stuff and had it delivered to her own house, and defaulted on the payments. My wife didn’t even know about it until she tried to get a new credit card, got turned down, and discovered that her credit score was abysmal because of the above.

It took her forever to get her credit cleared, even though all of the bad credit marks were clearly associated with the cleaning lady’s address.

Do you really need to show your ss card to get a job or anything else? I have been asked many times for my ss# (most recently in 1997 when I got a month’s expenses from Stanford), but I have never been asked to show the card. In fact, I have no idea where it is. The number is firmly committed to memory. The card was a wallet-sized card of which the only thing I remember is that it said, “Not for identification purposes”. That was around 1950.

When you get a job in the US, you need to know your SSN and be able to prove that you are legally able to work here. However, the card is only one possible document that proves work eligibility; I have always used my passport instead. There are lots of other documents listed on the last page of http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf that can be used as well.

I however did need my social security card when my family was working with a lawyer to try to get me Social Security disability benefits. In that case I needed to show precisely that I was part of the Social Security system, and apparently just knowing the number was not enough. I had absolutely no idea where my card was, and it wasn’t in any of the places is reasonably might have been (one of which was the envelope it was originally mailed in, which was in the safety deposit box, but the card wasn’t there), so I needed to apply for a replacement.