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Social Security Number: When Should I Give it Out?

In today’s day in age, keeping your personal information private is becoming increasingly difficult. Between social media, various data breaches, and online everything, it’s no surprise that identity theft is on the rise. Your Social Security number (SSN) is just another piece of the puzzle to protect from potential scammers. Knowing when it’s necessary to give out your Social Security number versus when it’s not is an important distinction to help keep your information safe. It also prevents fraudulent debt in your name.

Avoid identity theft - and debt - by knowing the legitimate times to give your social security number.

Avoid identity theft – and debt – by knowing the legitimate times to give your social security number.

Social Security Number: When Should I Give it Out?

Privacy in the digital age is hard to come by, but it’s important to protect your personal information. You should treat your Social Security number as confidential information and keep your card in a safe place with other important documents. Taking the proper precautions to protect you identity can save you from fraudulent activity and unwanted consumer debt racked up in your name. It’s important to know the distinction between when you’re required to give your SSN versus when you can opt to offer another form of identification.

Situations that Require your Social Security Number

Protecting your personal information should be a priority. But sometimes, giving out your Social Security number is a necessity. Here are some examples of institutions/situations that require you to give out your SSN:

  1. Insurance companies
  2. Credit applications (for credit card companies, potential mortgage & auto lenders, etc.)
  3. Financial transactions over $10,000
  4. To collect social security benefits
  5. Employment records
  6. Tax returns
  7. Other transactions that require notice to the International Revenue Service (IRS)

Basically, any time that a lender needs to check your credit, providing your Social Security number is required. And, any transactions that require notifying the International Revenue Service (IRS) will require your SSN.

Other SSN Requests & Reminders

Other institutions (like at your doctor’s office or on a rental application) may ask for your Social Security number. While they can request this information, you are not legally required to provide it. If you’re ever uncomfortable providing this information, request to offer another form of identification, such as your driver’s license number.

It is always within your rights to ask why an institution needs your Social Security number, what they will use it for, if you are required by law to provide it, and more. Also, be sure to check any state laws that may require you to give out your SSN.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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