Thursday, December 4, 2008

Answers to Common Social Security Number Questions

Have you ever really stopped to think about the importance of your Social Security number? Nearly everyone has one of these numbers, yet not everyone fully understands the significance of their Social Security number or why it is so important to keep it properly protected.

What is a Social Security Number?

A Social Security number is a number that is unique to each individual. As such, it is almost like a digital fingerprint that helps differentiate individuals from one another. For that reason, your Social Security number is used to when completing certain important transactions and when setting up financial accounts. In addition, your Social Security number is used to keep track of your annual earnings from year-to-year so your Social Security benefits can be determined once you have reached the appropriate age.

When is a Social Security Number Needed?

There are many situations during which your Social Security number may be needed. Some of the documents and circumstances during which you may need your Social Security number include:

• Completing tax forms
• Filling out employment records
• Opening bank accounts
• Completing stock and property transactions
• Opening credit card accounts

If you are asked to provide your Social Security number for any other purpose, you should use extreme caution in order to make certain you are not victimized by a thief or putting yourself at risk of having your personal information breached.

How Can I Keep My Social Security Number Private?

Although your Social Security number is a very important number that you may need to use on occasion, it is important for you to take steps to keep your Social Security number private. If a business requests your Social Security number, for example, ask if you could use an alternate number instead. The same is true if you live in a state that still places Social Security numbers on its residents' driver's licenses.

Some job applications also request Social Security numbers as part of the application process. Rather than placing your number on an application that may pass through many hands, write a note stating that you will provide that information if you are called for an interview or when the employer wishes to conduct a background check.

You should also exercise caution when saying your Social Security number out loud in public places. If you are giving your number to a merchant or healthcare provider that has a reason for needing the number, for example, it is best to write it down on a piece of paper rather than saying it out loud. If it is necessary to speak it out loud, be certain to whisper and to ask the merchant or provider to do the same. Similarly, do not place your Social Security number on your checks and do not allow merchants to write this information on them either.

About the Author: Shannon Kietzman is a well known author and trusted resource. Shannon regularly writes for . For more info and to order your credit report with FREE credit score please visit

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