Q&A of the Day – Who really needs your Social Security Number
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry... This is a follow up to yesterday’s story on the Quest Diagnostics hack that compromised 11.9 million Americans exposing Social Security numbers, medical information and financial records.
It is so frustrating that we must give out this information in order to get services from companies that put us at risk.
Bottom Line: I agree that it’s frustrating that we’re even put into a situation in which we’re pressured to provide the information. But I’ll offer up a correction as well. You don’t have to provide your number for services. They have no legal right to it. They also retain no legal means of denying you services for not providing it – though any organization that wants to deny you services for not providing it – is an organization you likely don’t want to be serviced by...I’ll come back around to that point.
First, without your consent, only federal government agencies you’re taxed or serviced by have a legal right to your Social Security number. In other words, no company or organization has any legal authority to demand that information in return for any non-federal reporting purpose. On that note, about federal reporting purposes. There are instances that companies or organizations must obtain that information with your consent. Anything that requires federal reporting for taxable purposes. Examples include:
- Your employer
- Organizations you claim a taxable prize from
- Financial service providers
But that’s just about it. If something doesn’t have to be reported for taxable purposes to the IRS – they can pound sand. And frankly should. It’s offensive that so many organizations selfishly pressure people to provide the information that puts them at risk of being compromised as in the Quest Diagnostics instance. So why do they do it? For collection purposes in case you don’t pay your bill. Like I said, if an organization gives you a hard time about not providing your Social Security number to them – you should probably seek alternatives anyway. They’re more concerned with turning your personal information over debt collectors (which pay more for collections that include Social Security numbers) and putting your personal information at risk, than providing you with high quality service.
In summary, unless there’s something that must be reported to the IRS – just say no to anyone and everyone who asks for your Social Security number.