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Tips on What Not to Do with Your Social Security Number

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Protecting your social security number is very important. With only your name and social security number, an identity thief can impersonate you and apply for credit cards and loans, buy merchandise, lease an apartment or car. Here are some tips on how to keep your number safe.

  • Always keep your card in a safe place. You shouldn't carry it with you unless you need it for a specific purpose such as applying for a job.
  • Don't put your social security number on your checks, business cards, address labels or other identifying information.
  • If your drivers license number is your social security number, ask to change it.
  • If your health insurance policy number is your social security number, ask to change it.
  • Financial institutions and employers need your social security number for wage and tax reporting purposes. Ask these questions when someone asks for your social security number.
    • Why do you need it?
    • How will you use it?
    • What law requires that I give it to you?
    • How will you protect it from being stolen?
    • What happens if I don't give it to you?
    The answers to these questions will help you to decide if you want to give out your social security number. Only you can decide.


My Social Security Number: How Secure Is It? and Social Security Numbers: Frequently Asked Questions from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse provides more information about keeping your social security number secure.


Reviewed and updated August 2014.