Might I’ve your SSN? Why too many people are saying ‘sure’


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Id thieves are on the prowl, and one of many essential treasures they search is Social Safety numbers.

Data breaches in monetary providers corporations that go away Social Safety numbers and different personally identifiable info (PII) uncovered are more and more widespread. As only one instance from this yr, Voya Monetary Advisors notified purchasers in March that their data had been the topic of an information breach, with an unauthorized social gathering having access to customers’ names, addresses and Social Safety numbers.

Raj Ananthanpillai, CEO and founding father of Trua.

Such episodes function reminders to all of us how cautious we should be with our PII — particularly these Social Safety numbers.

However simply how cautious are we? Typically the reply is: not very.

That is as a result of, from health club memberships to job functions, we’re routinely requested for these essential digits. Most of us simply comply with out questioning why it is wanted. So it is value asking: Why accomplish that many companies or non-public businesses ask for the quantity within the first place –– and is their nosiness allowed by regulation?

The quick reply is that SSNs are sometimes used as simply one other technique to confirm id. And sure, any entity can ask for the quantity and use it for any goal that does not violate federal regulation, in keeping with the Social Safety Administration. You possibly can refuse, however then they’ve the precise to disclaim you providers.

On its website, the Social Safety Administration discusses how using SSNs has developed for the reason that company was created within the Nineteen Thirties. The cardboard was not initially supposed as a private identification doc; its unique goal was merely to permit the federal government to keep up data of the earnings of staff lined underneath this system. 

Over time, although, that modified. Companies, authorities businesses and different teams found that the distinctive figuring out quantity was a helpful various to making a separate identifier for their very own recordkeeping functions.

“Use of the SSN as a handy technique of figuring out folks in massive techniques of data has elevated through the years and its expanded use seems to be an everlasting development,” the Social Safety Administration stories. “Usually, there are not any restrictions in federal regulation precluding using the SSN by the non-public sector, so companies might ask people for an SSN at any time when they want.”

Typically it’s even required by regulation. Employers want the quantity to report workers’ earnings to the federal government. Banks and bank card issuers even have a professional want. So do monetary professionals who’ve an obligation to guard any PII they collect from purchasers. Monetary advisors are additionally in a superb place to remind purchasers in regards to the risks of being free with their Social Safety numbers, and to be as diligent as doable in defending them. 

Encourage purchasers to ask these three questions of anybody who requests their Social Safety quantity:

  • What’s the goal of getting the quantity, and who will they share the knowledge with?
  • How lengthy will the knowledge be saved on their servers?
  • Is there one other technique to set up id with out the Social Safety quantity? 

Sadly, too many individuals robotically comply when requested for his or her information. To place an finish to that, all of us can resolve to share the knowledge extra sparingly, to ask extra questions and to demand to know precisely how it is going to be used.
One other approach is to create higher safeguards across the info itself. Reusable verified digital identifications, such because the one my firm supplies, collect a person’s delicate info — government-issued IDs, date of start, aliases, addresses and, sure, Social Safety numbers. After a verification course of, a singular identification is issued, one that may be shared by the person over electronic mail, cellphone or QR code, or which will be embedded in a monetary establishment’s onboarding software. The PII is rarely shared and is at all times underneath the person’s management. 

An all-in-one digital ID means the consumer doesn’t must share various items of private info again and again, whereas the enterprise or company doesn’t have to fret in regards to the legal responsibility and expense concerned in storing and defending the knowledge. 

Everybody wins — besides, after all, the id thieves.

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