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4 tips to protect your Social Security number

Know where you need to provide your Social
Know where you need to provide your Social © JohnKwan/

Unless you've lived entirely off the grid and have never been employed, paid taxes, received government assistance, or had a mortgage or other loans, you've needed a Social Security number at some point.

According to Mark Hinkle, spokesman for the Social Security Administration, these are the entities that are most likely to require you to provide your number.

  • Employers.
  • Internal Revenue Service for tax returns and federal loans.
  • Banks and lenders.
  • U.S. Treasury for savings bonds.
  • Other government-funded programs such as welfare and workers' compensation.

Keep in mind, too, that government agencies obligate certain businesses to acquire your Social Security number. For example, under IRS rules, banks must obtain a Form W-9, or Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, from customers opening new accounts, says Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Citibank. The taxpayer ID that's requested by a W-9 is the customer's Social Security number.

At Wells Fargo, spokesman James Hines says new accounts requiring a taxpayer ID or Social Security number include savings accounts, loans and even safe-deposit box rentals. Wells Fargo does not put the numbers on statements or online accounts, he notes.


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