State Statutes Restricting Or Prohibiting The Use Of Social Security Numbers
Currently, more than 25 states have adopted laws restricting or prohibiting the collection, use or disclosure of an individuals Social Security number , and these laws generally apply to all commercial entities. In addition to the SSN disclosure laws discussed in this article, other state laws also may regulate the collection, use or disclosure of SSN data for example, this article does not address state laws that regulate the collection, use or disclosure of SSN data by insurance entities, given the specialized nature of those laws.
Type of Information Covered
Even when an entity is permitted to mail an individuals SSN, the SSN should not be printed, in whole or in part, on a postcard or other mailer not using an envelope, and should not be visible on the envelope or without the envelope having been opened. Unlike the California SSN disclosure law, which does not specifically reference the transmission of SSNs via electronic mail or facsimile, the Maryland law specifically prohibits the inclusion of an individuals SSN on any material that is electronically transmitted or transmitted by facsimile to the individual. In addition, some state laws, such as those in Minnesota, North Carolina, and Vermont, specifically prohibit a person or entity from selling an individuals SSN to a third party. The Michigan and Minnesota SSN disclosure laws also prohibit the use of SSNs as an account number.
74 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 204.
Your Social Security Number
This is where we begin to get into the information that has the greatest value for identity thieves.
Among all those types of information, none is more important than your Social Security number.
The fact is:
Its the gold standard for identity thieves because it opens so many doors to your financial life.
This is where the combination of general information, like your name, with a Social Security number can be devastating.
This is commonly referred to as personally identifiable information, or PII. When such information is linked to your name, it gives the thief easy access to your identity.
Armed with just your name and your Social Security number, a thief can not only access your accounts but also obtain credit in your name.
How to protect it
You cant afford to drop the ball on this one, the stakes are simply too high.
- Never carry your Social Security card with you.
- Never give it out where its not absolutely necessary.
That includes writing it on a check, other than to the IRS. Also, be sure to store your income tax returns securely.
Many institutions are now showing only the last four digits of your Social Security number, which eliminates a lot of leaks.
What Happens When A Family Member Steals Your Identity
Knowing that someone has used your personal information for financial gain is one thing, but when that person is close to you, its entirely another. What happens when you suffer at the hands of a family member who victimizes you to commit identity theft?
He was sentenced to 3 years probation with 6 months home confinement, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $123,103.40. Selleck received disability benefits for 8 years while working as a maintenance engineer for Turner Broadcasting Systems, Incorporated.
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The Privacy Act Of 1974
When Congress passed the Privacy Act of 1974,46 it took the first legislative step toward establishing a federal policy limiting compulsory divulgence of the SSN. In its report accompanying S. 3418, which became the Privacy Act, the Senate Committee on Government Operations stated that the extensive use of the SSN as a universal identifier was “one of the most serious manifestations of privacy concerns in the nation.”47 Citing its fear of harm to individual privacy through misuse of information systems,48 Congress intended, in the Privacy Act, to curb government use of SSNs as a personal identifier.
Section 7 of the Privacy Act provides that
It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual’s refusal to disclose his social security account number.
However, the effectiveness of the Privacy Act in restricting SSN use was somewhat limited by the exemptions in Section 7 of the Privacy Act:
The provisions of paragraph of this subsection shall not apply to
any disclosure which is required by Federal statute, or
the disclosure of a social security number to any Federal, State, or local agency maintaining a system of records in existence and operating January 1, 1975, if such disclosure was required under statute or regulation adopted prior to such date to verify the identity of an individual.
If Someone Else Uses Your Social Security Number What Social Security Can Do
If you suspect that someone else is using your number for work, you should report it to Social Security.You also can check your earnings record by calling 1-800-772-1213 and asking for a Personal Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement. You may also download the form from us. Your statement will show the earnings reported to your Social Security number each year since 1951. If you find that too much or too little is reported for your number, notify Social Security. We will help you correct your record.
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When Am I Required To Provide My Social Security Number To A Business
There are a few situations in which you must provide your Social Security number to a business, including
- becoming an employee or independent contractor for a business
- engaging in a banking, financial or real estate transaction
- applying for group health insurance through your employer
- applying for credit
Even when there is no law requiring it, a business might request your SSN and deny you service if you refuse to provide it.
Contact The Internal Revenue Service
You may also want to contact the Internal Revenue Service if you suspect an identity thief has filed a tax return in your name to get a refund. The IRS should also be on your list of contacts if you suspect someone is using your number for work purposes. Otherwise, the IRS could think you failed to report income when you file your own tax return. Use the IRS Identity Theft Central website or call 800-908-4490.
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How Service Canada Protects Your Sin
Service Canada stores personal information requested to apply for a SIN in the Social Insurance Register. This information includes your name, date of birth, place of birth and your parents’ names. Dates of death are also recorded in the Register.
Service Canada protects your SIN in the following ways:
- we store your personal information carefully on our premises and in computer systems that are only accessible to authorized employees who have a “need to know”
- we provide guidance about how to protect your SIN and your personal information
What Is A Credit Report
Your credit report is a summary of your credit history. It lists:
- your name, address, and Social Security number
- your credit cards
- how much money you owe
- if you pay your bills on time or late
All the information in the credit report should be about you. Get a copy of your credit report. Make sure you recognize the information in it. If you do not, you need to try to fix it.
Learn more about your credit history, including how to get your free credit report.
Here Are The Places You Shouldnt Give Out Your Social Security Number
Topping the list is any college or university. I recall when Social Security numbers were used as your student ID number and they were posted everywhere on campus. I even had a professor who posted grades outside his office by Social Security number.
The second worst place to give out your Social Security number is in the banking industry. Unfortunately, theres no way around this one if you want to open an account, you have no choice but to divulge the digits.
Making four separate entries on the list are hospitals, medical businesses, health insurers and medical offices. These kinds of places always want your Social Security number and I always leave it blank. Their thinking is if you dont pay, they want to be able to turn you over to a collection agency. But their security is like Swiss cheese with holes, and medical identity theft is huge problem.
I recently had a diagnostic test and was handed pre-printed forms where my Social Security number was printed in four places. I have no idea how they got it. Anybody who sees my records now has access to my Social Security number.
Other places where you shouldnt give out your number include government at all levels and volunteer charity organizations. When it comes to the latter, the non-profits need to run background checks on you. But they vary greatly in level of sophistication and your info may not be properly secured.
What The Numbers Mean
The nine-digit Social Security number is divided into three parts. The first three numbers generally indicate the state of residence at the time a person applies for his or her first card. Originally, the lowest numbers were assigned to the New England states, and the numbers grew progressively higher in the South and West. However, in recent years, this geographical relationship has been disrupted somewhat by the need to allocate numbers out of sequence to certain growing and populous states. The middle two digits of a Social Security number have no special significance, but merely serve to break the numbers into blocks of convenient size. The last four characters represent a straight numerical progression of assigned numbers.
SSA has issued about 365 million Social Security numbers, and about 10 million new numbers are assigned each year. But even at this rate, there will be no need to reissue the same numbers, revise the present system, or devise a new numbering system for several generations. For this reason, SSA plans to continue using the nine-digit number.
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To Get A Drivers License
If you have an SSN, many states require that you have to provide it when you apply for a drivers license.
Non-citizens who dont have Social Security numbers are exempt from providing a Social Security number in many situations that normally require it, including getting a drivers license, registering for school, getting private health insurance, or applying for public assistance such as subsidized housing. The government doesnt like to give Social Security numbers to non-citizens who arent authorized to work in the United States. It says that even banks and credit companies usually cant require you to provide a Social Security number if you dont have one.
However, without this number, financial institutions wont be able to run a on you, which could make it difficult, if not impossible, to get a credit card or loan.
Other Federal Statutes Affecting Ssn Confidentiality
More recent enactments by Congress have provided increased confidentiality of SSNs in public records. Any SSNs and related records that are obtained by federal or state authorized persons pursuant to federal laws enacted on or after October 1, 1990 “shall be confidential, and no authorized person shall disclose any such social security account number or related record.”56 Penalties are provided for unauthorized willful disclosures of such confidential information.57
Widespread distribution of SSNs from state driver records has been curtailed since 1994 by Congress under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.58 Since its amendment in 2000,59 certain “highly restricted information” may not be disclosed by a state department of motor vehicles without the express consent of the individual, except under limited circumstances.60 The statute provides for both criminal punishment and a private cause of action for violations of its provisions.61
Another federal statute which provides some protection from SSN disclosures is the Freedom of Information Act .62 The FOIA requires federal agencies to generally make their records available to the public, unless a specific exemption applies. “Exemption 6” allows an agency to withhold records that would disclose information of a personal nature where “disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”63
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Why Service Canada Does Not Issue New Social Insurance Numbers For Those Affected By A Data Breach
A new Social Insurance Number is not a fresh start or protection from fraud or identity theft.
If someone else uses your old Social Insurance Number and the business does not check the persons identity, you may have to prove you were not involved in the fraud or pay the impostors debts.
The Government can only share your new Social Insurance Number with the federal departments and agencies that use your Social Insurance Number.
This means that it would be up to you to provide your new Social Insurance Number to all the financial institutions, creditors, pension providers, recent and current employers, and any other organizations with which you shared your old Social Insurance Number.
Not doing or failing to do so properly risks not receiving benefits or leaves the door open to subsequent fraud or identity theft.
A new Social Insurance Number does not erase your old Social Insurance Number. You would therefore need to monitor your accounts and credit reports for both Social Insurance Numbers on a regular and ongoing basis. This would put burden on you. Numerous Social Insurance Numbers multiply the risk of fraud.
The best way to protect yourself if you are affected by a data breach:
Leave Your Card At Home
Dont carry your Social Security card around with you in your wallet or purse. Dont enter your SSN into your phone, laptop, or other devices. It would be rare for you to need your card. Typically, reciting the number is all thats required. Keep the number in your head and the card locked up at home.
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Apply For A New Ssn As A Last Resort
If you believe youve done everything you can and someone is still using your SSN, you may need to request a new number from the SSA. If you decide to apply for a new number, you will need to prove your identity, age, and U.S. citizenship or immigration status. You will also need to provide evidence that someone is using your old number. The SSA booklet Your Social Security Number and Card explains the application process.
Bear in mind that a new SSN may not solve all your problems. Think about all the government agencies, banks, credit reporting companies, and others that already have and use your old number.
Once you receive a new SSN, do not use your old number again. Make sure your new number is reported to all agencies that will need it and that those agencies know you no longer use your old number.
The Social Security Act Of 1935
The original Social Security Act of 1935,4 did not expressly mention the use of SSNs, but it did authorize the creation of some type of record-keeping scheme. Section 807 of the act stated,
Such taxes shall be collected and paid in such manner, at such times, and under such conditions, not inconsistent with this title , as may be prescribed by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury.
In addition, Section 808 of the act provided that “he Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, shall make and publish rules and regulations for the enforcement of the title.” Shortly after passage of the Social Security Act, the Bureau of Internal Revenue required the issuance of an account number to each employee covered by the Social Security program.5
Consider An Identity Protection Service
You can register with an identity protection service such as LifeLock, IdentityForce, or Identity Guard. Such companies charge fees that typically start around $10 a month. Banks and credit unions also have packages they sell to customers, as do major agencies such as Experian and TransUnion. Many of the best credit monitoring services also offer identity protection tools and services.
Ask A Cop Can Police Officers Ask For A Social Security Number
By PA News
- Officer Rickey Antoine
Earl from Port Arthur asks: I need clarification about an incident that occurred between my son and a police officer during a traffic stop. My son was stopped for speeding, but during the stop the police officer asked my son for his social security number. My son was appalled and questioned the officers need to knowing what his social security number was. We are law-abiding citizens and never want to disrespect ANY law enforcement officer or cause any undue stress upon a police officer. But in the time where peoples identity are stolen, my son and I believe it is a stretch to ask someone for their social security number because he had already given the officer his drivers license, proof of insurance and registration. Did the officer step over the line asking my son for his social security number or is this a normal practice for law enforcement officers?
Answer: WOW, what a difference a day makes. Earl, this was a normal practice at the Port Arthur Police Department 13 years or so ago. There was actually a section on our citation where the officer on a hand written citation would ask ANY person being cited for their social security number. Asking citizens for their social security number was the core of many, many and I mean many unpleasant verbal exchanges I endured on traffic stops. I rejoiced when we removed the social security number item from our citation.