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What precautions should be taken when using SSNs and SSN cards?

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at ssa.gov.

1402. What precautions should be taken when using SSNs and SSN cards?

  1. Keep your Social Security card in a safe place with your other important papers. Do not carry it with you unless you need to show it to an employer or governmental agency.

  2. Be careful when providing SSNs to employers, to ensure that the employer has the correct name and SSN, as it appears on the Social Security card, under which to file reports of earnings.

  3. Self-employed persons should accurately report their names and SSNs as they appear on their Social Security cards, on their Federal tax reports and returns.

  4. Be very careful about sharing your number and card with third parties, to protect against misuse of your number. Giving your number is voluntary even when you are asked for the number directly, particularly by private agencies and businesses. If requested, you should ask:

    • why your number is needed;

    • how your number will be used;

    • what happens if you refuse; and

    • what law, if any, requires you to give your number.

    The answer to these questions can help you decide if you want to give your SSN. The decision is yours.

Last Revised: Feb. 4, 2008


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