Monday, September 17, 2007

Share Your SSN with Anyone?

by Rick Kam

When is it OK to give someone your SSN, if ever?

The answer is ...

NEVER give out your SSN to an organization or person you don't know.

There are only a few reasons organizations need your SSN. One is if you are applying for credit. Say, you walk into your local car dealer and decide to buy a new/used car. The dealer will ask you for a copy of your drivers license and will check your credit report to see if you are an able buyer.

Another good reason an organization will ask for your SSN is if you are applying for a job. The employer will do some background and credit checking depending on the position you are applying for. If you are not comfortable with the organization having your personal information to do this background check, you may want to reconsider working for them.

The other reason is to pay taxes. The IRS will require your SSN on your tax returns. Many of us may ask why the IRS needs your SSN? Well, it is so they can identify that you submitted and paid any taxes due. Unless you want the IRS coming after you, it is probably a good idea to provide your SSN on your return.

If others ask you for your SSN, make sure you ask why they need it and ask how they plan to protect and destroy the information once they are done with it. It is incumbent on organizations to protect your personal information, especially with recent privacy legislation (i.e. HIPAA or GLBA).

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