Your Social Security Number: How social do we need to be?

Social Security Number

So, I was cleaning my broiler pan….


Don’t ask me why, but this subject popped into my head while I was cleaning the broiler pan from making ribs in the oven.  It’s a really big mess to clean up, so there’s lots of time to think.


So, as I was scrubbing, I wondered, how many times to people ask for our Social Security numbers when they shouldn’t really need that information?  When is it acceptable to say “no?”


First, here is a list of people you can’t say “no” to:


  • Credit applications
  • Cash transactions over $10,000
  • Applications for certain federal benefits, including Medicare and Medicaid
  • Military paperwork
  • Interactions with the Department of Motor Vehicles


So, why does everyone else ask?


I’m thinking the doctor’s office, schools, landlords, employers, the trash collector, the veterinarian, the movie theater.  Maybe those last few are exaggerating, but still, it seems like it comes up a lot.


Mostly, people are looking for a way to track you down if you don’t pay your bills.  So, even if it’s not mandatory to disclose your SSN, a business could refuse to do business with you if you don’t fill in that box.

Just say no.


How do you get around providing your Social Security number if it’s not necessary?  Here are a few suggestions I picked up:

  • Just don’t fill out the box on the form. Sometimes, the business will just let it go.
  • If pressed by the business for your SSN, ask the following (P.S. Be nice about it – that will help):
    • Why do you need it?
    • Who will you share it with?
    • What law requires that I provide my SSN to you?
    • What will you do if I refuse?
    • What other forms of ID will you accept?


Just be prepared – anyone who is considering extending you credit or entering a financial arrangement with you will probably insist on getting your SSN.  However, your annual membership to the Zoo or the Art Museum shouldn’t require that information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.