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Susan M. Heathfield

You Want My Social Security Number?

By December 29, 2013

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Readers increasingly ask questions that pertain to the privacy of their personal information both on online job applications and paper job applications filled out and retained by the potential employer. Please share your thoughts in today's poll. You may select as many answers as apply in your organization. You are not restricted to just one response.

Question: "I have applied for a job and the hiring organization wants my social security number on the application. Is this legal?"

Answer: I am not an attorney, so keep that in mind. Asking for the social security number on an application is legal in most states, but it is an extremely bad practice. (Some states prohibit private employers from collecting this information for fear of identity theft.) Depending upon the state in which you reside, laws are different regarding supplying this information, and I cannot keep up with all of them.

I would not provide this information on a job application. Keep in mind, though, that on many job applications, you are signing to provide permission to check references, do background checks, allow criminal record checks, and affirming that everything you have provided on the application is the truth. If you do not supply the social security number on the application, you will likely have to make another trip to the company to fill it in, if the employer wants to offer you a job.

With all of the new laws about guarding employee and applicant information security, no client with whom I work, asks for this information until the person is hired any more. No one wants to be responsible for guarding this information for the year that it would be accessible in a file.

It might cost you the employment opportunity, but I would write "SSN available upon job offer" in that space. They will need the SSN if they do background checks, so you will need to provide it for the background checks if they make an offer. I would prefer to keep that number safe until hired, but it is not always possible.

Especially in online applications, you may need to provide your social security number, but I would avoid offering my social security number if possible. Why are employers asking for social security numbers from every applicant? Seems like such a bad idea.

Image Copyright James Lauritz / Getty Images

More About Employment Practices

November 11, 2009 at 1:27 pm
(1) Mark says:

I currently have a PT job and have been looking for extra work. Everyone, esp. the national companies, require you to apply online. And you cannot apply without providing you SSN to be stored in their data banks for god knows how long. It doesn’t matter what the laws are. I believe if not hired they must dispose of your information in a short period of time. But lets take WalMart for example. The first question they ask you is for your SSN. How many time a day do you think WalMart gets hacked? Dell themselves said they get hacked “5,000 times a day”. I promise I don’t say this for dramatic effect, its true! Do we really need to trust all these random companies, national or not, to have the skilled workers on hand to protect our information? I’ve worked in Networking and IT management AND studied Databases. I would never trust these guys myself.

October 16, 2011 at 3:59 am
(2) PJ Rhoades says:

They are doing credit checks – and basing your hiring or not on your credit score.

November 14, 2009 at 2:01 pm
(3) Susan Heathfield says:

Mark, if I were job hunting, I would state: available at interview. Very few employers do background checks on all applicants, and you’re right, they don’t need it when you apply. What does anyone else think? As a former HR Director and HR Consultant and writer, the truth is that I don’t want to be responsible for caretaking possible identity theft data. What’s the norm these days?

July 28, 2011 at 12:15 am
(4) Matthew Smith says:

Susan the challenge with providing “available at interview” is it is not possible because the form will not accept an incorrect answer such as letters in a format requiring numbers.

December 8, 2009 at 2:31 pm
(5) Ruth says:

Actually, if you attempt to apply to one of these companies online, you are required by the process to enter a SSN. Some will accept 9′s or 0′s, but some will just kick you out of the system. In a recent attempt to register with a staffing firm, I phoned to ask why they needed my number and if it was possible to give it only when hired. They replied that it is required and suggested that I come in rather than apply online. When I expressed reservations about giving the number at all until hired, they told me they probably “wouldn’t be a good fit” for me.

So, it seems that I can give my SSN or look elsewhere. I wonder if this is more prevalent in an employers market. They can obviously afford to call the shots and I cannot.

July 26, 2011 at 5:27 am
(6) Walt says:

I was recently laid off . I did receive a couple of over the phone request from contracting agencies for my SSN along with my resume. I had tell them, not until we have a hiring process with the client. I was told ( still on the phone) this was needed to prevent duplicate submissions to the same client. My reply was that I needed meet with them in person and to be at leased considered to start an interview with their client before giving out my SSN. If there is a problem with this , I will just have to move on.

March 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm
(7) Beth S. says:

When asked for my SS# by a private organization, and it is inappropriate but “required,” especially an on-line form, you might want to put four zeros in the last section. Most systems will accept it, and you are still keeping your number private.

Another excellent choice is to use the SS#’s that used to be used as wallet inserts back in the 1960′s by Woolworth’s — 078-05-1120. The SS Admin. has voided it, but it is doubtful that a system like this would be that intelligent. SS#’s that begin with 999 and 000 are also void. Perhaps just using a “typo” when entering it can be advantageous.

The laws only allow various government agencies, most banks and some group health insurers to require your SS#. Although private businesses cannot demand it, they can choose to not to do business with you if you refuse to provide it. IMHO: A very silly policy.

July 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm
(8) atmospheredesigns says:

Beth S.
Thank You! That is an amazing answer!!! I Just love it! Bring it back to the old days when none of this BullSh*t was a factor. I am not going to give some random third party site my SS# along with my date of birth! – No F’in way in the midst of the News of the World scandal and emails from Nicaragra offering millions. What are we Stupid!! F’it I’ll loose the nowhere teenage job I am forced to apply for at this time rather than give in to this. This cannot be legal in these times.

April 2, 2010 at 8:49 am
(9) Linda says:

Even the US Census doesn’t get this! I took the test and did very well and told them I would supply my full SS# upon offer of a position. They haven’t called but hired my friend who took the test with me and did poorly. She gave them her number. One would thin the US Census would know about the sensitive issues with SS#’s but they don’t care. The facilitaor said, “Oh please, this is the government, don’t you trust them?” NO! I don’t.

April 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm
(10) Mike Irwin says:

A lot of large companies require it on the grounds that they want to know if you have been employed by them before, or submitted to them before (if you’re going through an agency).

On the face of it, this is a reasonable thing to want to be able to do – I don’t want to be confused with another Mike who was barely able to wash his hands, much less program databases, but, as others have said, there should be better ways of achieving it!

April 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm
(11) Katie says:

I received an application where the applicant included only the last 4 digits of her social security number, and only the month and date of her birthday on our drug screen and background check forms. Although she wasnít qualified for the position and would not have been interviewed, it did make me think Ė how would I feel about someone who didnít want to disclose information that was obviously required, such as the background check form? Weíre required to conduct national criminal background checks on all employees, and itís clearly stated on the form. Not knowing if the check is conducted before or after an interview, why would this person refuse to disclose information required on the form? Not sure what I would have done had she been a viable candidate for the positionÖ

April 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm
(12) Bill says:

Well good for you that you’ve got SO many viable candidates bangin’ on your door! Fact is, if she was a viable candidate it is her education and employment information as well as her knowledge, skills, and abilities that QUALIFY her for the jobl. Then she interviews. Then if she is offered a position she provides her personal information and you can background check till your blue in the face!

April 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm
(13) Rick says:

OK, but you’re totally missing the point. Why do you need to do this before you’ve even offered a person a job??? You admitted you probably wouldn’t have hired her, so why do you need her date of birth and social security number? I can go along with asking for this AFTER you offer a person a job; I agree with the drug screening, etc. But not before you’ve even offered them the job? How do we know what you’re doing with this information? It could end up in a dumpster somewhere for someone to pick up and use to steal a person’s identity. It’s unbelevable to me that companies can’t comprehend why this is absolutely wrong.

June 4, 2011 at 9:53 am
(14) Evansmom says:

Does anyone read about identity theft? No employer does a background check on every applicant so SSN can be requested at time of job offer. Also, we all know that the date of birth is being asked for only one reason…..I call it discrimination!!!!!

Wake up employers!!!! Stop the games!

April 6, 2011 at 2:43 am
(15) Lori says:

In Massachusetts, you can’t ask an applicant for their SSN on the employment application.

May 4, 2011 at 10:44 am
(16) Zandor:D says:

Right at this moment I am contemplating if I should give my ssn for this job today. Rick, totally hit the nail on the head. Why do they need this on every applicant??? I have been in the interview room and looked over at a pile of papers on the interviewer’s desk… what did I see, some poor saps SSN in plain view. They just don’t get it, but they look at people like us and say were not a good fit.

Employers like to hire Sheep, People that are passive and afraid to speak up.

We’re not crazy!

May 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm
(17) Amanda says:

I am a teacher looking for work. In the state of South Carolina, they require your SSN to be your USERNAME for the website where you apply for teaching positions. I don’t think so!! That can’t possibly be legal!

June 16, 2011 at 9:05 am
(18) Janice says:

Being unemployed is bad enough, now I need to worry about Identity Theft too. I do not understand why any company would utilize an applicant tracking system that requires SS#. It is required and I have only seen one application that allowed 0′s, all the others will not allow you to submit the online application without the real number. So I have missed out on some good jobs and some companies have missed a great applicant because I am not putting my social on an on line app. I asked a counselor at TWC what he thought and he asked me “Why would you be concerned to put SS# on a on line application?” WOW!!
Considering the Worksource just revealed that it exposed the personal data of all the enemployed database.

June 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm
(19) Louise says:

Many online applications will not allow you to continue the application process unless you fill in information for a background check. That means, date of birth (age), social, etc. I find this a very convenient way for employers to practice age discrimination. I don’t see how it is legal to ask a person’s age upon applying whether or not it is for a background check. As an HR professional, background checks are not done until a job offer is made. Offers are contingent upon passing the background check. It is cost prohibitive to do background checks on EVERY applicant, so why do they ask if it is not to discriminate?

July 24, 2011 at 2:21 am
(20) Tim says:

I agree with all these posts. With paper applications you at least have the option to write “available upon offer” and most firms that only except resumes do not ask for it until that time. Does make you wonder what these HR departments are thinking.

July 28, 2011 at 2:47 pm
(21) Lee Smith Jones says:

I am a recruiter for a company that supplies engineering type personnel. Today a very large company told me that they will need SSN# & DOB’s and M/F information with every candidate along with all personal contact information. We have been doing business with this company for 7 years, we have never been asked or supplied this before.
This makes me extremely uncomfortable, I have never requested this private information (payroll responsibility), nor do I want to have it to pass to the client.

September 13, 2011 at 10:36 am
(22) Stephanie Wms says:


What have you done regarding this situation? Did someone explain the ramifications to this company? Why do they want that information from the start anyway?

August 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm
(23) Adriana says:

I went to a firm today where they did not want me to take their spelling and typing test without my SSN and DOB. The woman claimed it was required in order to begin the hiring process. She even stated that she has been employed there for eight years and they never had any issues with theft. I doubt she would have disclosed if any breaches in security had ever occurred. She did not inform me on how this information will be destroyed, etc. Considering they are a law firm, they will be quick to state the theft did not come from them even if it ever did. The worst thing is a little person like most of us will find it very difficult to prove the theft came from a potential employer.

I felt so uncomfortable by this forced “request” that I decided not to pass the spelling test. I just couldn’t see myself working for a firm that takes this information for EVERY applicant prior to the start of the hiring process. She made me laugh when she said they have one of the most secure systems. She must spend tons of time behind her desk doing very little. As most of us know, if government sites can be hacked, law firms are a slam dunk. It just takes a few minutes for hackers to do plenty of damage to someone’s life.

I wrote an email to my recruiter stating that I have no problem forwarding this information to any employer or if I am one of the top candidates during the final stages of the hiring process. I don’t feel comfortable supplying this private information to a firm that has not made it to first base with me.

August 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm
(24) Gay says:

As a former recruiter we never sent out the link for the background check and application until the person had an interview set up. However, all that changed when a great many of the temp candidates (less skilled workers) began to show up with criminal histories. The usual process was to hire temps and ask questions later. However, they ended up having to do this immediately with anyone that had potential to be hired in order not to hire felons. However, they did not change their process for the more senior positions. I personally believe there should be a national law against asking for a birthdate until a person has been hired. I think it will happen as the boomers age and someone finally challenges the practice in court.

September 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm
(25) Ken says:

I applied for a job with a state government agency in the state where I live. Before I even applied the instructions said for me to supply my SS number. NO WAY – I gave it once to an electric utility to get service to an appartment, the representative gave my number to her boyfriend and I endured two years of hell trying to get my life back. NEVER GIVE ANYONE YOUR SS NUMBER. Wait for the job offer and then it’s OK.

October 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm
(26) Mike says:

SSN Safe! Doubt it. It’s interesting how you do not need SSN until hired and most companies do state that jobs may not exist. So exactly what does Knonos and similar companies do with all this information on thousands of “potential” employees. Well one can only imagine. If not the Kronos, one of its employees tht is not screen by the same process. Very interesting indeed. I will let all the other readers of this regerge of information decided for themselves.

November 14, 2011 at 5:25 pm
(27) Karen says:

The social security number is NOT a secure number and should not be used for secure authentication procedures. This means, if you need a highly secure identification code or card for some reason, the company that issues that credential will not use a social security number as its secret code, even though that social security number may be in its records somewhere.

The social security number is now more or less used as a national identifier. Whether this is right or wrong, the fact is that the SS “is out there” like the very air we breathe. Get over it.

Fighting criminal activity is a huge enterprise. We take our chances with every single online transaction. Then again, we take our chances when we drive, take a plane, or just walk down the street. At all times, we play the odds that only the best will happen to us and for the most part, we are right.

I agree with everyone that the online job application forms are horrendous. Over the years, I’ve only exchanged my resume via email. In order for a company to recognize you, you need to talk to someone in it. If there is something in that company’s online form that rejects your information, your contact in the company will rectify the situation.

That said, I don’t think you should go to the wall over your SS#. On the other hand, before filling in an online form, make sure that the company in question is legit. I’ve always loved DICE.com, for example. That said, keep track of your records!

December 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm
(28) Unknown says:

Your SS# is the one number that is linked to you your entire life. If someone steals your credit card you can cancel it and get another. I have heard so many nightmare stories of people trying to clear up identity theft issues for years–and stuff that should be obvious because the person was a HS student when this occurred, or the thief lived in another half way across the country and was the wrong gender, the red tape involved in fixing this mess i wouldn’t wish on anyone. and it’s all on you to prove in each instance that you are not that guy. and on top of that, even after it’s cleared up. i t still comes back to haunt you in credit checks, etc.. because some agency didn’t update it’s records or wasn’t informed. this stuff can prevent you from getting a home, and now-a-days, a job.

January 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm
(29) Darran says:

My employer of 4 years is switching over to a new payroll system. As I am a remote employee, we will have to sign in/out via a weblink to a https server. However, they are requiring us to use our names and our full social security numbers as our identifiers. I have expressed that I am uncomfrtable sending my SSN twice a day over the internet, regardles of how secure they think their servers are. It is a small company of less than 100 employees. I have asked for an “employee number” or some other identifier but they have said no. System goes live in 2 weeks, what are my options or legal rights?

January 18, 2012 at 10:25 pm
(30) Illuminazis says:

I just filled out Registration for a Staffing Firm called “Select Staffing” They wanted all my Personal Information on top of a copy of my Resume, Drivers License Numbers and SSN and they want this to Unwillingly Submit my Private Information to Third Party Websites including Surveys from the United States Government! I think this is Atrosis and should not be a Mandatory Requirement in order to get a Job in the United States, This is America this isn’t INGSOC 1984 type $h1t! I will never trust the Government cause they have raided my house before without Warrant and ransacked my home cause I ran a few American Resistance Forums. Warning people of the Collasping Economy and the Tyrannical Luciferian Plans of the Global Elite. However I don’t tell people thing cause I want people to hire me. But still it’s branded in my Mind and I think our Civil Liberties are attacked when a Computer Program Decides who gets a Job in this Country. Our Government needs to stop treating us like Al Queda and Give us back our Freedom! G0dd4mmit people what the hell is wrong with you that think this is accepting in our Society! Wakeup Sheeple!

February 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm
(31) Tom says:

Couldn’t a company get a background and credit check just by even having just my full name birthdate and state id card # instead of asking me for my Personal tax information?

February 7, 2012 at 3:00 pm
(32) Timing of Background Checks says:

They give a 60-90 day probation period upon hiring. Why not do all the background checks then. It is scary that you can’t trust people any more. (Because if the person was a violent criminal, employers cannot afford the liability if he or she were to attack another employee, for one example. Also, I disapprove of probation periods for some very good reasons.)

February 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm
(33) QUESTION says:

In what states is it illegal for private companies to require the SSN?
Also is it legal for companies to block individuals from applying based on their SSN?

February 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm
(34) Koz says:

My question/concern about requiring an SSN up front – before anything else takes place is, can’t a prospective employer use your name, SSN, etc. to find out the answers to all those “illegal” questions that they’re not supposed to ask (age, race, sex, religion, etc.) without your knowledge – thereby avoiding the potential “discrimination lawsuits”?
You know, kind of the same way they get around potential discriminatory terminations by using the “at will agreements” they make you sign, that say they can “let you go at any time with or without reason”. They no longer have to tell you why you’re being let go (making it harder to bring wrongful termination lawsuits against them).

Also, under the guise of “reporting EO hiring statistics to the government”, many online applications ask for detailed racial/ethnic information up front as well. What are the odds that, despite claims to the contrary, that information will not be “misused”?

March 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm
(35) Winedown says:

My practice is to tell a prospective employer that I will give them any personal information they require WHEN THEY WANT TO MAKE ME AN OFFER CONTINGENT UPON SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF A BACKGROUND CHECK, DRUG SCREEN, CREDIT CHECK – WHATEVER!!!

If they tell me that it’s required in order to move forward with their process, I tell them I’m sorry, but that is MY policy! If they cannot respect that, then they probably won’t respect me in my job anyway. I know it may cost me a great opportunity, but if you don’t look out for yourself these days, nobody else will. That’s for sure! It is making it much harder for me to find a job, but I’m not going to put myself at risk in this way! It’s a shame that us REAL US citizens have to pay because our government allowed non-US citizens into this country, hence the constant threat of terrorism here! It’s certainly not MY fault! So why should I have to continually prove myself in order to find and keep a decent job in the place in which I was born, much less fight so hard to keep my identity?

It’s extremely frustrating to me that we can’t seem to get the “powers that be” to look out for us “little people”. They talk about “putting America to work”, but there’s much more involved in that. How about “let’s give Americans their right to work and support their families without exposing them to fraudulent activities?”

March 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm
(36) john gault says:

I think this topic is very relevant, given that most people search for jobs online. Readily handing out the information that any hacker can use to identify you is not a good idea, regardless of whether or not it’s a company looking for help. The screeners should be able to filter qualified applicants through job history, skillset, and schooling, if it’s a real potentilal job that is. I tend to think another reason for wanting this information is to check the age of the applicant. Insurance companies don’t like having to insure people of a certain age.

March 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm
(37) Hamilton Burger says:

I’ve gone through this social security wringer with a major firm (McDonald’s, main office). The requirement there is for the last four digits of the SSN plus date of birth. A hacker can determine the entire SSN from that data. For candidates, this requirement is outrageous. Yes, age discrimination is one use for the data. Yet next to identity theft, age discrimination is a rather benign worry.

One can’t be too cautious. I *never* provide the SSN on a non-encrypted Web site or in email. After episodes of identity theft, I also use virtual credit cards online. When RFID devices replace swatches on cards, I’ll start using an RF-shielded wallet.

There are further identity threats for job seekers. Beware of phony job inquiries. A hacker will pose as an employer and contact you through email. He or she might already be acquainted with your background through reading a job board resume. Report these emails to the job board! Today, drug testing firms (DTF) make the applicant sign a release. This release protects the DTF from a lawsuit by the applicant. In some cases, lawsuit protection covers the case of false positives! This is a double standard. Any employer seeks a competent, accountable candidate. Yet in turn, the candidate signs away rights to competent, accountable testing!

March 24, 2012 at 2:12 pm
(38) Carolyn says:

My understanding of the law (I am not a lawyer) as I see it: an employer is permitted to request your social security number but not a potential employer or one with a job offer. Employers are only allowed to demand your ssn for reporting to the IRS. Because this is becoming such an issue, I believe we need a federal privacy law concerning employers as they are becoming more invasive on an individual’s privacy.

April 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm
(39) Edward says:

In the IT World, I get calls all the time from agencies all over the country, so when they ask for a social, it’s good to check the company out first before supplying it. This worked for my most recent agency. I of course can’t fly cross-country just to fill out one field on a form.

April 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm
(40) candsi says:

Booze Allen had me fill out 10 pages of personal information prior to the interview. At first they only wanted me to provide my race/gender – when I ignored the request, they sent me the entire appliciation. I basically filled it out thinking that I had a good chance of getting the job. After the interview, I received an e-mail from them, stating that I was not qualified for the job. THIS WAS TOTALLY DISCRIMINATION! Today, I received a job alert from AT&T. After submitting my resume, they sent an email requesting that I fill out a background check form and an EEOC race/gender form before they can consider me for an interview. I deleted my profile from the AT&T site, and ignored their email. I believe this is a new trend, with employers. Be careful.

April 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm
(41) Cherise Danielle Schmalz says:

Blah, blah. I will give anyone my social.

April 22, 2012 at 11:54 am
(42) Valerie says:

Not only is there a possibility of any size organization being hacked, employees are in a position to share personal information. They can sell it or provide the information to someone else.

Unfortunately, once the information is released by whomever, it is hard to discover who the perpetrator was.

How about DMV workers caught selling driver license information. Consequently, personal information should never be required until a job seeker receives a viable job offer.

For example, if you apply for a job on the San Diego County employment site using the on-line application requires DOB, Drivers License, and SSI. This is a government agency.

I suggest scrolling through the application first, if possible, to avoid wasting your time filling out the on-line form, only to get to a page that requires this information. The application can ask for only the month and day (not year) but to have this information is really useless, unless you become an employee.

As a result, companies who require this information lose top talent applicants because of antiquaited policies.

April 25, 2012 at 1:12 am
(43) Rich says:

The SsN was never to be used as an ID for any other purposes than related to Social Security. Read the laws regarding the use of the number. I find it disturbing how cavalier some are in giving or requesting this number. When the number 1 crime in America is identity theft, shouldn’t an individual guard that number. What if as employees we were as cavalier about security codes or computer access codes as they want us to be with our personal identification information? Just because it is “accepted” does not make it right. It is time to put a stop to the practice with legislation. Maybe if a careless company had to pay a substantial penalty, they would begin to understand. Maybe if they were financially responsible for repairing a person’s stolen identity and they were made a public example, the practice of irresponsibly using this number would stop. Think people, that number links your whole life. Once stolen, your life, reputation and future earning potential is worth crap.

May 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm
(44) Lucy says:

Well, I’m really glad to see this article as well as the comments. I am currently unemployed and would love to get a job. All the companies I have applied to so far require that I go online to fill out an application and do require SS#. You cannot fill out the application in its entirety unless you supply the SS#. In this day and age – with identity theft and hackers breaking into the government’s websites, I would think companies would see how wrong it is to require this information. Our government is quite lax when it comes to protecting us in the internet age. Why hasn’t a law already been erected against having to fill out this information until you come in for an interview? They should have a law against having to fill out this information online. They aren’t idiots about the internet; they know how it works, so why are they acting like we are stuck with a 50s mentality? C’mon get with the program gov.

May 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm
(45) Job Seeker says:

I have been contacted by several head hunters from staffing agencies. I am asked to come in and fill out their application along with signing their consent to run a background check, check references, and so on. I was asked to put my s.s. # on the application. That didn’t sit well with me. The receptionist was pushy. I told her nicely that upon assignment and “IF” if she places me she can have it then and I will return to provide it. She was adamant and insisted she needed it for e-verify. She slid it through her machine. And I never heard back from the staffing firm again. I called and left two messages. This is a verified agency. And she was aware of how I felt about providing my social. The least they can do is return my calls. I just don’t understand the purpose of being bullied into to providing my s.s.#. If I want a job, is this what I have to look forward to? It kind of feels like I was treated like a 1 night stand. lol….

Any suggestions?

May 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm
(46) Lucy says:

I forgot another thing I wanted to add. There is a very good reason why we are being asked for more and more information despite how easily people have had identity theft. This is a big business age. Government allows this because it knows it will generate more and more people that have identity theft. Hence you need to buy identity theft “insurance.” There are new companies and business being started because of this. The more business, the more money government gets.

May 9, 2012 at 10:50 pm
(47) Annde says:

I had an interview today with a well-known non-profit organization. In addition to filling out an application, prior to my interview, I was required to fill out a background check form, providing my SS# and birth date. They also wanted references, which is not that uncommon, but I feel like all this information should not be requested until one is at least “shortlisted” for the job. Not only is there potential for identity theft, but it is wide open for age discrimination. Also, references are golden. I don’t want to have to keep telling my references that they may be contacted before we even move forward with the interviewing process. I did not fill out the background check form. Upon leaving, I told them I didn’t feel comfortable giving out this information right now and wanted to wait until later if we proceeded to the next level. The receptionist claimed they’d shred the information. She was hesitant and said she’d ask the person who interviewed me if it was okay, while I waited in the reception area. I wasn’t going to leave the information either way. Of course the interviewer said it was okay, but I am sure I am now not going to be considered.
I seriously thought about using a fake birth date and SS# or writing them out so illegibly, it would be difficult to read correctly. I don’t understand why we have to provide this information so freely. I don’t remember it being like this ten years ago. This is not the only company that required me to provide this information. Something should be done about this. I am at least going to find out if it is legal in my state.

May 17, 2012 at 7:56 pm
(48) eph says:

This is outrageous. I was just about to try and apply, but they ask for a ssn? Come on world, what’s really going on, spying on neighbors? What happened to work hard and let it be. They do not need mine if they won’t hire me anyway. Walmart and the goons are just trying to invade the privacy of Americans. Gullible enough.

June 1, 2012 at 8:05 am
(49) Truth Seeker says:

I’ve noticed that most up on this site don’t have a clue about not giving out your social security numbers to any agency, business, job, or hospital. You don’t have to give out your number and the law states this. Seems that no one studying Law, Common Laws that is, that do exist, anyone can go google this. If you don’t believe me go look this up: “The Privacy Act of 1974″ and “Section 7 of the Act states: (a)(1) It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual’s refusal to disclose his social security account number.” Don’t believe anything I say, it’s in the law, go read it for yourself. I’ve showed many jobs that and they asked me where did I get that after I refused to give them my SSN and then I said give me your name cause I’m gonna put a lawsuit on this company for prejudice, and they said no don’t do that and they hired me. Under the Privacy Act of 1974 there are many laws: people can get locked up if they ever given out your number to any third party agency or anyone for that matter. And trust me, there are many other things I have learned that the Government is a crook. We can also send mail for only 3 cents. That’s right, you heard me: 3 cents. Most people don’t have a clue what’s going on. We are being robbed when they’re charging 45 cents a stamp. Well, I no longer pay that I’m exempt from it, and it all deals with the common law that exists but they don’t want you to know about it. I even beat tickets by using common law jurisdiction. Have a blessed day…We all have Rights and we all must start asserting them. If you don’t assert your rights, that means you have none!

June 12, 2012 at 6:17 am
(50) Misftibarbie says:

There is a reason they do it. Your information is being sold to financial institutions and marketing firms, to generate junk mail , spam, and credit card offerings, etc; Every company does it, public and private. Think about it, why else would they collect so much information, especially without the prospect of an interview. I would guess that the majority of the online application are generated by marketing firms that partner with an organization. In this way the organization is not burden financially with process and support of endless amount of information, while the marketing companies can sell the info to generate call and mailing list to other agencies. It is premise behind Facebook., and it is because of Facebook, that these surveys are becoming more aggressive with your personal information. I have had online jobs ask for my picture, my driver’s license , my age, and race. Information that we all thought was protected. However, with the Facebook craze where people willing give this information , those protections are being squandered. If you ask me a line needs to be drawn in the sand. You should not have answer this information unless you get an interview. Otherwise, we are all becoming vulnerable to identity theft. Another thing that has become our responsibility to take care of, and not the parties who make it possible for it to occur.

June 26, 2012 at 5:32 pm
(51) Erica says:

Do you want a job? I have worked in situations where 90% of the clients I recruited for required the last four of social and month and day of birth. They use this to make sure you haven’t worked there before, and if you have that you are eligible for re-hire.

Imagine this scenario:
Suzy Smith just got married (and more polished) and became Susan Jackson
Suzy worked for Co. XYZ in the 80′s and she did a terrible job then and got fired. Fast forward 30 years, Susan is applying for a job at Co. ABC (they bought Co. XYZ in the 90′s but Susan doesnt know this). She doesn’t include 30 years worth of experience on her resume, she doesn’t think the two companies are connected.
Susan Jackson gets a job offer, gives her 2 weeks notice, and shows up on day one with her Social Sec card and DL ready to start. By day three, payroll and HR have gotten her info into the system. Lo and behold, Suzy Smith and Susan Jackson are one and the same…and guess what? Also not eligible for re-hire. So what becomes of Susan? She has left her job of ten years for a new one, and guess what she’s fired from that one before she even starts. You imagine how bad that would be for Susan. I have seen the exact situation occur,you wouldnt believe how “Suzy” cried and cried, “What I am supposed to do now?

June 26, 2012 at 5:34 pm
(52) Erica says:

At the end of the day, this information does serve a purpose that is helpful to both the employer and employee.
I am convinced the unemployment rate climbs because of peoples’ sense of entitlement, and down right unwarranted paranoia. I’m not putting my personal information on-line?! Im not giving you my SSN?! I even had a candidate demand to be paid for her interview. 100 years ago people got a job based on connections and word of mouth…in 2012 however you do have to fill out an application, and provide your personal info.
I mean you all can’t possibly think a company wants to wait to find out if you’ve been convicted of embezzlement, fraud, and kidnapping on your first day?! The hiring process is lengthy and expensive. That typing test you’re taking is just free to YOU. That background check we run is just free to YOU. And having the priviledge and ability to apply on-line is just free for YOU!
The 1800′s are calling, they are wondering where their most diligent employees went.
Thats all for free :) Back to recruiting people who DO want to work!

July 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm
(53) Kate says:

I think that employers should not be asking for our social security numbers until they have hired us, or at least made a job offer to do any background checks on us that they may need to do.

I have found to many scam (fake) jobs posted that I have referred to my state attorney general’s office. I do not wish my last bit of privacy to be handed out to just anyone that is not paying me and needing it only for tax purposes.

You are not even able to write in that section available, because it demands numbers, so I have begun to put either all X’s or all 9′s or all of one number and if there are any comment boxes I then write my social is available upon selection for employment.

There is too much identity theft and you cannot trust anyone with your personal ID, they should come up with another way to ID us without our social and keep that one thing private. Also if they have our social that is another way of age discrimination because our age will be associated with it with government files on us. I have already been discriminated against for my age.

I will not give it out online. Who knows who is intercepting our information with all of the hackers out there.

That is my opinion and I’m sticking with it.

July 31, 2012 at 5:45 pm
(54) Linda says:

As an employer I would weed out an employee stupid enough to give out their soc # before hired. As an unemployed person I would give out anything to eat.

August 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm
(55) Lucy says:

Erica (above) is a prime example of what is going on in our corporations today. She speaks of a sense of entitlement, yet she appears to be the one who thinks she is entitled. My hard efforts when I am employed entitle me to that job. I know I want to work, and I am a great worker, but I should not have to forfeit my privacy to get a low paying job. When I say privacy, I’m not talking about a potential employer, which I don’t have a problem disclosing this information at the right time. However, 3rd parties are getting our information – very easily – and using it.

I also know that a potential employer does not do background checks, etc on every applicant until they have narrowed down their search. They usually do not start the process for a background check until after the interview; with some companies not hiring you until after the 2nd or 3rd interview. Once I receive a telephone call / email to set up the interview, I have no problem giving out my SSN.

Erica, you know where our unemployment is coming from and by this time should know it’s not just from people that feel “entitled”. Or, is your head stuck so far up your A## that you don’t realize why our economy is the way it is today? Wake up Erica – it’s not paranoia or do you work for the companies that collect our information and sell it? This is a real epidemic that has begun to take ahold of our world. People’s information is being compromised. You want to talk about the 1800s Erica, maybe you should go back to them since obviously YOU don’t know what is happening TODAY in the 21st century!

August 7, 2012 at 2:37 pm
(56) leave a phone number instead says:

Leave a phone number instead.

If it won’t accept something like 111 22 333, leave the first enterable numbers of your phone number.

With all the id theft, online exploits, etc, you have legit security reasons NOT to provide online and reason to say: “sorry but I NEVER do provide it online or over the phone per legal and security advice.”

“I’d be willing to provide it in person after the interview process for sure. I’m a highly security-conscious type of person and I will be that way for your company too.”

Or if you feel awkward, perhaps you could say, “I have an automatic password filler app and that’s the mistake it made — sorry about that. Can I bring the info to you in person for my interview?”

August 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm
(57) Hannah says:

I am a Registered nurse and have worked for staffing agencies in the past. Now, recently, looking for work, I get emails from recruiters with “potential” job opportunities. They won’t divulge the name of the hospital because of competition, however before you are even considered they request A COPY OF YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARD, driver’s license, etc. I emailed the recruiter telling her that I do not give out my social security card to ANYONE before I am offered a job. Her response was “this is part of the recruitment process.” I’ve never heard of such a thing. Furthermore, she stated, “I didn’t ask you to email your SS card, but requested you to fax a copy of it.” Ummm…what’s the difference? I am wondering how these companies get away with “collecting” ss#s, yet have no job to offer you. Is this legal?

September 10, 2012 at 5:12 pm
(58) Renee says:

Lucy said: “I should not have to forfeit my privacy to get a low paying job.”

I agree 100%! It makes no sense that I should have to provide my SSN to a job that’s going to pay me minimum wage. They say they do it for background checks. Background checks for what? Criminal records? But you’re not supposed to discriminate against people with criminal records ANYWAY so why should it matter?!

An application for a part time job with minimum wage pay, no benefits, and precarious work hours wants my ssn? No.

October 2, 2012 at 11:30 am
(59) A. Reed says:

As an HR professional, I find it disturbing that a company like Lowes is demanding SS# and DOBs on their online application. This personal information is “supposedly” only going to be seen by the company contracted to conduct their backgound checks. Uuummm… how do you conduct a background check without so much as an interview??? Never mind that the SS# and DOB are stored on a 3rd party’s website. I’m sure it’s convenient to collect all the applicant’s data at once but please this is BAD employment PRACTICE.

October 19, 2012 at 11:49 pm
(60) Burton says:

On the Federal government on USAJOBS, when one applies to a position they are routed to monster.com and the application is NOT accepted unless the applicant provides the “required” date of birth and social security number. So these rules are for everyone but the government and in order to apply for a job one has to risk ones identity…What can be done about the government Office of Personnel Management (OPM) procedures ? How can they be stopped from doing this ? Does the HR industry believe this is okay ? Can I sue ?

October 24, 2012 at 2:15 pm
(61) JoAnn McClellan says:

In the last two weeks I have been asked for all of following in completing online applications. All asked for DOB, SSN, some asked for year of graduation from High School (the jobs required a college degree).

Not only is this dangerous to my personal information, it points to a goal of age discrimination.

I’ve been in HR for over 20 years – no company I’ve every worked for would have required such information in the application process. After an offer, the usual information needed for the background check was requested by the company doing our background checks. I wouldn’t have seen a DOB or SSN until the day one of employment when payroll and insurance forms would be completed.

November 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm
(62) Kevin says:

I was offered a job from an insurance company “Insurance Interactive” which opened 3 months prior and had mostly a bare office. I came in for an interview and was told during, I had the job. I came back the following day to give my Social Security card. The next day I was told the manager was out of town on a family emergency. I have not started working in over a week.
Was that a scam to get my personal information? Should I call or report it somehow?

November 12, 2012 at 5:56 pm
(63) Susan Heathfield says:


I don’t know what to say. Is the company still there a couple of days later? Check with your local Chamber to see if they are a business. You might even talk with the police if the situation continues to look odd. Do check back.

November 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm
(64) teto wais says:

While shopping for a new internet company( bundle price) before starting service they asked for my social sec. number. I told them no way will I give that out. too much identity theft. So they would not let me sign up for new service unless I gave it or put down a 600 deposit. So I did not sign up————-will not give my soc sec number out. this was Century Link—————–they guranteed that it was safe. I don’t believe that———just be aware

January 10, 2013 at 5:01 pm
(65) Andree says:

I wanted to let you know about a new petition I created on We the People,
a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov, and ask for your support. Will you add your
name to mine? If this petition gets 25,000 signatures by February 06, 2013,
the White House will review it and respond!
create a Job Applicant Bill of Rights
Prevent companies from requesting social security number, drivers license
number, state id number and date of birth on a job application, whether it is
an online, a paper job application; there by protecting job applicants from
identity theft.
Some online job applications require applicants to use their social security
numbers as their user name in order to even start the job application
process. Some online job application will not allow a job applicant to
proceed without inputting their social security number.
We need a nationwide act similar to the Utah Employment Selection Procedures
Act May 12, 2009.
We all know not providing requested information put applicants at a
disadvantage. Job applicants should not have to choose between being
considered for a job or protecting their identity

You can view and sign the petition here:


February 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm
(66) Lucy says:

@ Andree: you don’t have many petition signatures. I just saw this today. But maybe you didn’t let many people know about this petition? Like I said I just saw it today. Can’t you get a longer deadline on your petition so you can promote it to others? I’m sure many more would sign it if they were aware of it. I would have post it to facebook if I had known. I don’t usually even check back here for some strange reason I did. Anyway. contact me please I will help you promote the signatures as best I can (if you can get an extension or generate a new petition). Thanks. Marinaskylablu (AT) yahoo (DOT) com

February 17, 2013 at 5:23 am
(67) Daniel says:

Amazing this thread is still active after 3 Ĺ years.
Until today, none of the many apps Iíve completed over the last couple of months had asked for a DOB or SS#. I ended up here after searching on the legality of the practice.
Fortunately, I was able to indicate that I would provide my SS if tendered a conditional offer, but it did demand a mm/dd/yyyy birthdate. So I entered today’s date.
These companies may not realize it, but they’re committing intellectual suicide by having entry-level people follow line-in-the-sand policies to weed-out critical thinkers.
Enjoy your mediocrity.
And little Erica (comments 51 and 52) sounds like she just got her first job out of junior college. All she sees is that harvesting this data makes her job a no-brainer…literally. Her company probably establishes a credit score threshold each candidate must meet before they’re even considered; it doesn’t require a genius IQ to pull a person’s Beacon #.
Plus, if she is young, no one is going to want her identity anyway. She has nothing of value; no credit history, no bank accounts, no brokerage accounts, and maybe a car loan and student loan or two!
Her arguments for needing the data pre-employment are irrational too. I’ve worked for three large-ish companies in the last five years (two with gross revenue above $7B annually), and none required my SS or DOB on the app. In her scenario where the candidate was not eligible for re-hire, I have this to say: if that was real and she was involved, she should be forced to scrub toilets for the rest of her life. I donít know much about HR, but what little I do know includes the fact that you NEVER tell a candidate to tender their resignation until they clear background and drug screen. DUH!
Finally, Erica mentions the “privilege” to apply on-line. Who the hell are you kidding? That “privilege” exists for one reason: to save companies money.
People like Erica belong on an assembly line somewhere; as far away from other people as possible.

February 25, 2013 at 10:05 am
(68) Dom says:

As of today, Feb 25 2013, these practices are alive and well – and yes, “employed” by the biggest names for the lowest paying to the most lucrative positions. It is the way corporations get around the hiring laws and can avoid asking the illegal questions while arriving at the same results. It is so bad that I think the Department of Justice should investigate. But won’t.

February 26, 2013 at 8:55 pm
(69) Sonam says:

Pull up your States Department of Law and it will state your rights.
My State Law says applicants do not nor should be asked to give out social security numbers unless it is for a Government job. So everyone research your State Law with your State Attorney General. Let the place your applying to is informed, so if they force you to, you will be knowledgable. Stand up for your rights and privacy.
I just applied for a job and they contacted me via email, their email was a private email, not a business or website, they sent an attachment for an application. I downloaded that to fill it out, and yes there was an area for social security number. I did not fill that area in. Sent the app off back to them but copied and pasted my State Law to inform them I do not have to give them my soc sec #. Probably won’t get the job ha!

February 26, 2013 at 9:27 pm
(70) Jg says:

Check your State’s Department of Law Attorney General’s website.
Mine states applicants cannot be forced to provide social security number on application or at interview. Of course if you’re hired, yes they need it.
So do your homework and know your rights. Let the hiring manager understand that you know your rights.
Good luck and be careful.

March 21, 2013 at 11:33 am
(71) Gabby says:

I was going to apply online for a job but saw that the amount of personal information they want is excessive. In addition to the social security number (which I think is too much already) they wanted my driver’s license number, state of drivers license, and date of birth. Not to mention the typical address requirement. They would have my entire life in their hands with this amount of information. I agree with most of the comments, why the hell do they need this before a job offer?

April 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm
(72) Dan C. says:

While I agree that providing your SSN is better until you are hired, there are also instances when the employer does not get the information from an employee. Adding to the conversation, here’s an article we wrote about this. http://www.docusearch.com/ssn-search-for-employers.html?refer=blog

April 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm
(73) John says:

In the low level jobs if you think the employer is going to ask you to come back to fill in your SSN number and not just move on to the next person you are mistaken. It’s just the norm to put your SSN in and if you don’t you are not going to get hired. This is horrible advise and your article seems really naive like someone who hasn’t had to search for work in a long time. So make your choice, put in your SSN and have the chance of getting hacked or don’t put it in and never get a job.

May 3, 2013 at 10:48 am
(74) Trace says:

First of all, I have been looking for full-time work for 3 years now. I am sure it has to do with my age. As the years go by I am getting older not younger. I went to this article to see if HR is checking credit before hiring. My credit is not stellar by any means. I had this happen years ago, where I was offered the job by a large insurance company, they did the credit check after I left the interview, called me back there to (they said) fill out tax forms. I was so happy I would be doing my dream job in media and public relations. I was about 38 years old. Well, when I arrived the recruiter took me in the room and told me they had to rescind the offer. Mind you, I gave notice to my other employer once they made the offer. When she said that, I thought it was a dream. You have to do what I said? We have to rescind the offer she said again. I said, “Mam, you don’t understand. I have two little children and I’ve given notice to my other job already.” Well she didn’t change her mind. I tell you when I left that Illinois company, I was in tears and I almost ran off the road. I thought I was in good hands and I was not. Anyway, I told my father what happened and he could not believe it. He had loaned me money to get new tires, brakes, and an oil change to get me ready for this new job. When I got back home I called the good hands company to speak to the President. Of course, no one responded. Out of hurt and anger, I hired a lawyer from legal aid. To make a sad story short, I won that case against that huge insurance company. It was found that you cannot use credit checks to discriminate against certain classes like women, Blacks, Hispanics, disabled, or other classes. Your credit could be in that shape due to divorce or other unforeseen circumstances. God bless my lawyer, he was from legal aid but I’ll never forget that experience.

May 7, 2013 at 9:50 am
(75) *sigh* says:

“So make your choice, put in your SSN and have the chance of getting hacked or donít put it in and never get a job.”

John’s comment is unfortunately true. What bad times we are living in..

June 6, 2013 at 7:53 am
(76) tom says:

Had a recruiter with a foreign accent just request last four, and month/date. Website was flakey and mission statement search revealed many other staffing agency with identical statements. All had mother company as in India. There phone number was identical to another company’s IN THE SAME SUITE! And, one of their “Business Partners” icons has been out of business for 5 years.

June 15, 2013 at 1:09 pm
(77) Wesley says:

As much as it sucks, the SS# is requested as part of the job candidate screening process for a valid reason: to check your credit. Poor credit affects our ability to obtain good interest rates, lower insurance premiums and yes, unfortunately, indirectly reflects upon our suitability for employment; though I do believe we need to be very careful about dissemination of that information for obvious reasons.

June 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm
(78) Boss says:

Any HR department or private individual that gets your name and social security number can run a preliminary check on you for literally a couple of bucks with the thousands of information companies on line. Most of these sources aren’t even credible because much of their information is out dated. Anything from divorce and other court records to pictures of your current house and automobiles. They can pre-judge you and if you don’t have a new car or a big house they can determine that even if they do hire you they can pay you as little as they want and you will take it rather than starve.
Invasion of our privacy will destroy all American dreams and keep you down. We need legislation to stop this madness and save the middle class and the American dream. Act now before it is too late.
Changing just the employment laws is not going to do it. We need a blanket privacy law. So get on your phone and call your congressmen and senators and get the ball rolling or stop complaining.

June 20, 2013 at 8:48 am
(79) Mike Blevins says:

I will no longer give my full SS# to anyone online or my full birth date for that matter. Who knows what these companies do with that data when it is no longer needed. I can envision a dumpster full of discarded applications with all that information intact. Same goes for merchant copies of credit card invoices. How many millions of individuals does this issue put at risk each day? Our lawmakers should do something that is actually useful (for a change) and address this problem. I think this should be marked top priority / urgent !!!!

June 26, 2013 at 12:52 am
(80) TheGhostofBelleStarr says:

I started filling out an online application today, page one required both SS # and Drivers License and all past home addresses for 10 years-what an ID thieves dream…also I looked up at web address on the online application and it was a 2nd party association. I Googled the name and it was a software company (they design clients’ web pages and forms) specific to this particular industry. But the web address was the 2nd party NOT the prospective employer-no where was their name in the link. Of course that led me to think that the 2nd party association could be collecting this sensitive data. I backed out of the application and decided to just not apply for that job.

June 26, 2013 at 12:58 am
(81) AddisonDewitt says:

@ (77) Wesley says:
If they get 500 applications for one job they are not going to run credit checks on all 500. Besides, excessive checks on one’s credit can lead to lowering of one’s credit score..so that is not going to fly. Someone in today’s job market may apply for 100 jobs–are you telling me they are going to have their credit checked BEFORE they are even offered an interview 100 times? Employers have neither the time nor the funds for that nonsense.

June 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm
(82) Raquel says:

I think this article raises a good question regarding providing such sensitive information as a social security number on a job application.
I believe that most reputable companies that see you as a legitimate candidate for a position, would understand an applicant’s desire to provide this information later in the hiring process. I have filled out applications before, only providing the last 4 digits of my SS#. I have been hired by some who were fine with me providing it upon an offer contingent on a successful background check. A great resource to find reputable companies who are hiring is Granted dot com. They have hundreds of thousands of quality job listings.

July 1, 2013 at 9:27 pm
(83) Tony says:

Someone said it in an earlier post. Identity theft is big business. Just look at how much money “Life Lock” spends in advertising. Our government could eliminate the fear of identity theft by closing the Internet, terminating the concept of credit, and requiring all commerce be transacted with gold bullion. Not sure if we would like to go back and live this way though. Maybe a new number needs to be established that is only used for determining one’s identity. It would be called our DNA Code and would be virtually impossible to be stolen, but could possibly be cloned. I no longer really know what I am saying, but thanks for reading my entire comment.:-)

July 14, 2013 at 3:34 pm
(84) Employed says:

Guys do you not realize they have a reason for asking for that when you apply for a job? It’s to do background credit checks, criminal checks. You don’t wanna provide that, then don’t be too shocked when ya don’t get the job.

July 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm
(85) Sharon says:

How do search firms get away with asking when you completed high school? That is the most common way for companies to practice age discrimination!!!! Are they stupid or are they getting away with it because so many people are willing to give the information in order to get a job?

July 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm
(86) Elisabetta Colasitiri says:

It is said, but the more I know this country, the more I remark that is a dictatorship disguised by democracy. The question that everybody should ask is: “What is the reason why the law on disclusure of SSA has been implemented in such a way that anyone asking you to disclose your SSA has the ultimate right to decided whether or not giving you a job (or a service) if you do not want to provide your SSA?”. It is pretty hilarous for me to read in the law that it is not mandatory to provide SSA. It is hilarious for the simple reason that if in the end, not giving it, factually results from being denied a service, then it is equal to completely vanify the right itself of the individual to appeal to the non-mandatory issue that the law says it “guarantees”. (Comment continue)

July 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm
(87) Elisabetta Colasitiri says:

(Comment continuation) I believe we should go back to the fundamental misconception and wrong idea that in this country there is of what “freedom” is. As a matter of fact, the reason why business and entities can turn you down in a job or a service is because in this country there is this conception that anyone has the right to set the rules, even if such rules are discriminatory, and, if you don’t like it, then look somewhere else. But this is not freedom, this is legally allowing anyone to abuse of a power that should not have if, ultimately, their rules deprive people of their rights. So to speak it is true the say that “your freedom ends where mine starts”. This is the right concept of freedom. And here we come to the American diffuse misconception that if more “power” to set common rules is given to the Government, then is something bad, then is socialism. (Comment continues)

July 23, 2013 at 3:08 pm
(88) Elisabetta Colasitiri says:

(Comment continuation) Well, I know very well, for instance, the European reality and I can assure anyone that there is no socialism there, at least not at all in the sense most Americans view socialism which means communism. In Europe, governments, which by the way are represented by peoples’ choices (to use the wordings of the American Constitution, really “for the people, by the people”) stands for guaranteeing as much as possible equality and especially to give voice and to protect the minorities that are, in the end, the majority: the middle class. How? In setting commun rules that must be observed by anyone, rules that would respect anyone’s freedoms. Well, to come back specificly to the main subject, if you all would have a stronger Government in this country, then the law on disclosure of SSA instead of being so legitimately unsatisfying to anyone participating in this conversation (and I’m sure to many others across the country), would rule that business and entities are not to turn down anyone that does not want to provide his/her SSA. If they do so indeed, the Government would, yes, step in and take appropriate action in order for such business and entities to respect the law, which is equal to take appropriate steps to guarantee the freedom of any individual of not having to be turned down because enforcing their rights. This is, my dear readers, freedom indeed.

August 5, 2013 at 4:39 pm
(89) SKS says:

Employers need the SSN just to make a unique ID of the candidates in their database and also to have a background check if the candidate is hired.

August 6, 2013 at 11:53 am
(90) Need to start a petition says:

I agree with the comments that the practice of asking for either social security number, or last 4 digits of social security number with day and month of birthday should be illegal. Companies that ask and receive the last four digits of a social security number with day and month of birth now have enough information to get the entire social security number of a person. The only reason a company would want that information and require that information before they even grant an interview is to do a background check. There are so many inexpensive websites that companies can join to do preliminary background checks.

Heck, a headhunter even admitted to me last week when she requested that information so she could submit my resume for a “temporary” entry level marketing position, and I questioned the need for her to have this information, she admitted to me the companies do preliminary background checks. I can only speculate what they think they will find in a preliminary check. My first thought is age discrimination, but I’m sure there are other things they can discriminate for and no one will ever be able to prove it. We need to stop this now. 80% of the placement agencies that I’m contacted by require this information and I see it more and more every day. I tried to enter a petition on change.org but cannot find it. I’m going to try it again today. Please look for it or start one yourself. Let’s stop this BS!

October 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm
(91) Kennedy B says:

Once you get hired after having given your ss#, you can complete a W4T Replacement form along with an Exemption Certificate. The W4T Replacement allows legally for you to write ‘DECLINE’ Where your Ss number normally would go. The forms Cancel out the precious W4 on file, ask for the previous signed w4 as it has legally been replaced. They will not withhold taxes from your checks and you will not have your Ss n file any longer. The W4T is a legal form By the IRS and can be used. SEE VOLUNTARY WITHHOLDING AGREEMENTS – 26 C. F. R. 31.3402(p)-1

October 9, 2013 at 5:53 pm
(92) Susan Heathfield says:

Thank you for this information. I had never heard of this.

October 30, 2013 at 11:49 am
(93) William G. Sandlin Jr says:

My Social Security Card has the following on its front side, “For Social Scurity pourposes-not for Identification.”

I NEVER Give my Social Security Number, no matter who or what asks !

November 5, 2013 at 10:09 pm
(94) James says:

I wouldn’t, and I do not give ssn or BD unless they fax on company letterhead. If they say they must have it then you say fine as soon as you send a document that states you take full responsibility for personnel information along with proof that the signer of the document is authorized to sign such document… and that you will check with the company on its authenticity… if they don’t want to do that tell them you will write a review on all the employer review sites like Glassdoor telling everyone what they did and how they treated you… then hang up… if they’re that stupid then you probably don’t want to work for them anyway.

November 23, 2013 at 9:24 am
(95) Sharlyrob says:

Our AAP consultants tell us that the SS# is the one unique identifier to ensure that we are not counting the same applicant twice or confusing the one we want with one who has the same name and we do not want. We do not do a background check until we are ready to make the job offer. I would probably be more comfortable waiting until then to get the SS#.

December 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm
(96) mike says:

The recruiters defending the unethical practice are ignoring identity theft and the fact that the employer can check the number after the offer. Recruiters treat us like meat to be sold. Many recruiters are in foreign countries or work for foreign firms or may be scamming id thieves. Seldom do people apply to jobs that fired them.
I’ve been asked for the last 4 digits of social and month and day of birth. That’s semi reasonable. Whole date of birth and whole number isn’t. From now on I’ll give out bogus info and if they notice I’ll correct it.

December 31, 2013 at 11:51 am
(97) Laura says:

Our company is in the process of implementing a new applicant tracking system. The ATS asks for all applicants social security number upfront, and our whole HR department is rather leery of asking for this information. The way it is used, is to talk to our HRIS system, and see if anyone was flagged as “ineligible for rehire.” The purpose is to eliminate those candidates who were fired for misconduct or serious grievances, from reapplying for a different position with a different department. Our organization is very large, and geographically diverse, so doing that manually would be very costly. We do get a lot of applicants who reapply, thinking we won’t remember them, because we’re so large.
I hear what everyone is saying though, that it’s an issue of safety, and concern with identify theft, to not want to input your social until a formal job offer has been made. I’m afraid if we go this route, we’ll lose out on applicants who may not finish their application when they realize we’re asking for their social security number!
If you as an applicant were to read the purpose of why we ask for the social, and see security measures, would it still stop you from applying for the job?
I’m also curious, how other HR professionals might handle determining if an applicant is ‘ineligible for rehire’ with their HRIS and ATS. Thanks!

January 1, 2014 at 5:27 pm
(98) Susan Heathfield says:

The one suggestion that was added to my site recently was to only ask for the last four digits of the SSN. Some are still negative about this. But, it seems like it might serve your purpose. The problem is: your purpose. Job searchers do not see asking for the SSN as serving them at all.

January 3, 2014 at 10:31 pm
(99) Petar says:

What if the employee refuses to give you his or her SIN (Social Insurance Number – Canada) or to apply for one?
You have to be able to show that you made a reasonable effort to get it.


An example of a reasonable effort would be if, after asking your employee for his SIN many times, you decide to contact him in writing to request his SIN. Record the dates you asked him, and keep a copy of the written request and any other related correspondence.

If you do not make a reasonable effort to get a SIN, you may be subject to a penalty.

Even if you have not received your employee’s SIN, you have to calculate, make deductions and remit them, and file an information return on or before the last day of February of the following calendar year. If you don’t, we may assess penalties.

SIN Rules

January 9, 2014 at 5:34 pm
(100) Confused says:

I am confused, the on-line worksites are becoming increasingly more demanding of SSN’s. Yes it is about safety and privacy, however, when an employer truly wants you to work for their company and is following proper Human Resource practices. A SSN should only be given after a job offer has been issued. Once a job has been offered that is when the flow of paper work truly begins.

No longer are the days when jobs are offered and accepted on the spot. It is a very expensive, tedious and neccessary process to physically bring someone on board. I.E. filling out an online app and requesting a SSN is per the Priviacy Act a violation. Keeping in mind that this is an act and not necessarily a law. Much like the Affordable Health Care act. Both acts are enforcable by law. It is up to we the people to ensure that the Privacy Act of 1974 is enforced. Unfortunatly, there are major ostacles in place.

Companies are missing out on really great individuals because of discrimination! I hope that this offense does not continue to elevate as it is truly adding to the growing unemployment numbers.

January 13, 2014 at 2:18 pm
(101) Man says:

Yes, I am now making decisions on what to do (jobs to apply for, place to rent, phone to buy) based on whether or not my social (in)security number is requested up front.

January 16, 2014 at 12:31 am
(102) Adam says:

I work at a staffing company as a recruiter. I am required to recruit candidates for contract and temporary jobs over the phone all over the country. Speed is paramount in finding the right candidate as we are competing against other staffing firms for the same candidate pool for the same jobs. I have to ask people for their SS# over the phone as I recruit them. These contract job opportunities are with major fortune 500 clients. All of these companies use online vendor management systems (VMS) to post job requisitions so staffing firms can submit candidates to the postings. These VMS’s require the recruiter at the staffing company to enter the candidate’s SS# into the system in order to submit the candidate to the job. If you do not provide your SS#, the recruiter will not be able to submit your resume to that position, the manager at the client will be unable to review your resume, and you will not get an interview.

Asking people for their SS# is by for the worst part of my job. I may be forced to leave because of it. The staffing agency does not want the SS#, but their clients do, so they can track who has applied for their jobs, who has already worked there, why they left, was it on good terms, eligible to return, etc.

If someone asks you for your SS#, and it is a job opportunity you really want, you will probably need to give it to them or you may miss out on the job. I don’t like the practice or condone it but that is the reality of the situation. I can say that I and everyone I have ever worked with have had no interest in anybody’s SS# and nobody asks because they enjoy it, but unfortunately, it is the set up at major companies and they make the rules because they have the cash and they have the jobs.

January 18, 2014 at 5:05 am
(103) JC Bertrand says:

I wouldn’t give my SSN out on an online application anymore. Even if it was a legit and reputable company, I’d still be hesitant. I think a SSN should only be disclosed if an employer is serious about hiring the applicant.

I’m sure 70 million Target shoppers over this past holiday never thought their information would be compromised either.

January 21, 2014 at 1:15 am
(104) JW says:

If a state issued ID is enough for a cop to check you out then the SSN shouldn’t be required for just filling out a job application. The FCRA is called the Fair Credit Reporting Act not the Fair Criminal Reporting Act. Arrest and conviction information is available with a driver’s license if that’s what they’re concerned about. Now with the recent breeches at Target and a large community college laying bare personal information there’s even less reason for an employer to pry into this level of personal information without even extending an intent to hire. http://bit.ly/1bf8h6m

March 6, 2014 at 3:38 pm
(105) Andi says:

And the more we kow tow by providing our number, the more and more it is allowed to become the norm.

March 26, 2014 at 7:25 pm
(106) Ian says:

Great article and thread. I was applying for a job today and they not only wanted my ssn and my birth date but my driver’s license number as well. Wow. The ad was posted on snagajob. That is completely insane. I really doubt snagajob has internet security systems superior to other major corporations that spend many millions of dollars per year attempting to thwart attacks–and they get hacked anyway. It is disheartening to see the willingness of many people to provide an ever increasing demand for private information. Has anyone else run into employers demanding your drivers license number on the initial application?

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