No You Can’t Have My SS Number!

I So Pretty – Gimme You Numbah

I had an interesting  (in this case interesting = unpleasant) episode with Mr. Husband about my Social Security number recently.  It got me to thinking about privacy, identity theft and social engineering.  How we are programmed to “be nice” and “cooperate.” Thieves, scammers and even legitimate businesses take advantage of that. How many times have you been asked for information that you were not comfortable parting with, but gave it anyway because you didn’t want to make a scene, be embarrassed, or take your business elsewhere?

It all started with preparation for a heart stress test. The hub-man is preparing to take his first one. I offered to stress him out to make the test more realistic, but he declined. Any who, he was filling out 9 thousand pages of pre-test paperwork and at one point there is a space for the spouse’s social security number so he asked  for my number.

Being a rabid privacy advocate I asked him “what do you want it for?” Well for the form of course. “But YOU are taking the test and I am not even a client of this particular Doctor’s office. Why do they need MY social security number? They don’t need yours either, for that matter” “Well it’s on the form …”   “So? They don’t need my number, they don’t have the legal right to ask me, and I’m not giving it!” He got ticked off, rolled his eyes, stomped into his office and shut the door.

As a result, I got in my own personal snit. My reasoning is my spouse is supposed to be my mate and protector, right? We got each other’s back and so on. How dare he get angry with me for protecting myself when he won’t? Oh well. I am dealing with a man who will listen to a telemarketer for 15 minutes before saying “ no thank you.” I on the other hand will slam down the phone at the first hint of a junk call without saying a word. Why waste my time or theirs?

So I decided to do a little research into who really can ask for my number.  There are not that many situations where giving your number is required.

Mandatory

  • Credit applications
  • Cash transactions over $10,000
  • When applying for certain (not all)  federal benefits
  • Military paperwork
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (federal law prohibits the use your SS#  as your driver’s license number)

Optional (as in you are NOT legally required to give them your SS#)

  • Doctor and dentist intake forms
  • Supermarkets
  • Drugstores
  • Preschools
  • Airlines
  • Some stranger on the phone
  • YOUR RELATIVES. Yea, you heard me. Relatives perpetrate almost 50% of identity thefts. Nope it’s not the Russian Mafia Hacker or that prince in Nairobi whose father needs an operation, so please send him 5 million dollars.  Sadly, the case of people with ruined credit using the Social Security numbers of their children or elderly parents is on the rise.

According to the McAfee Security firm. The 10 most dangerous places to use your SS# are:

  1. Universities/Colleges
  2. Banking/Financial Institutions
  3. Hospitals
  4. State Governments
  5. Local Governments
  6. Federal Government (Yikes)
  7. Medical Businesses
  8. Non-Profit Organizations
  9. Technology Companies
  10. Medical Insurance and Medical Offices/Clinics

Pretty shocking list when you consider that several of the organizations are on the list of those that you have to give your number to. They forgot to add your house if drunk cousin Billy has access to your wallet at the family barb-b-que.

So maybe my husband thinks I’m a cranky ole geezer woman. So what? I’m protecting my bleeping identity even on days when I’m not quite sure who I am. In other words “I ain’t telling nobody nuthin about my SS number!” Now I’m gonna go sit on the back porch in my rocking chair, smoke on my corncob pipe and cast ornery looks at passers-by.

Useful Privacy and For Your Information Links:

Privacy Rights Org

CreditCards.com

IDTheftQuiz.org

8 responses

  1. My first thought when I read the mandatory list and saw ‘cash transactions over 10,000′ was “Who would be making cash transactions over 10,000? Drug dealers?” Could you imagine?

    *huge pile of kilos of coke*
    You want the stuff?
    > *rubs some on gums* Yeah, it looks good.
    Ok, just give me your social and we are good to go.
    > 424 35…

    1. LOL actually there lot’s of reasons to have over 10K in cash that have nothing to do with drugs or other illegal stuff :P. Not trusting the banking system is one. Traveling to countries that are known as having problems with stealing credit card information is another. Another reason is just for the hell of it. Or maybe run barefoot through it to know what it feels like. I find it disturbing that anyone thinks that it’s anyone’s business but mine how much money I have, spend, give away, or burn.

  2. I get asked for my SS number a lot with all the medical hoo-ha I deal with, even though my health insurance is through hub’s job. Always feel weird about it and finally stopped filling in that line of the medical form. Not once has anyone called me up to the window to tell me that piece of information is missing.

    1. Good for you! Why do they need it anyway? Were they going to track you down and re-possess all the medical hoo-ha if you found yourself in financial straights?

  3. About ten years ago a friend of mine got a big job in San Francisco and he and the wife packed up and moved to the US. He had a green card, she got some kind of visitor’s visa – not allowed to work or study but definitely in the country legally (similar to what I had when I first moved here.)
    She soon discovered she could not do ANYthing without a social security number. Sign a lease, install a phone, rent a video, join the gym… Forget getting a credit card or any legal ID or drivers licence. And of course few places in the US will accept a foreign passport for identification. And even less were interested in her visa since they didn’t know what a visa was – other than a credit card. She was enraged… treated like an illegal… It was the first time she had ever not worked and was okay with that – but the rest of the treatment was mind-boggling.
    She finally found a gym that would let her join and became extremely fit. And she liked the shopping and restaurants. They came home after a couple of years. Her opinion was that it was an extremely stupid country…

    1. My heart goes out to her. But, it’s getting better, thank God.

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