Many of you, who arrive in US as international wonder about Social Security Number and What does it stand for. What we overlook as internationals is the importance of it and how you can be prone to identity theft, if you do not take care of SSN properly. We will cover the basics of SSN and its importance in this article.
What is Social Security Number (SSN )?
SSN is a 9 digit number in the format XXX-XX-XXXX. It is given to all US Citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents who work in US. Its primary purpose was to “track individuals income for taxation”. Lets see the structure : AAA-GG-SSSS. First four are for area where it was issued, middle two are group number for administrative purposes with specific pattern and final 4 are serial number from
0001 to 9999.
Why is SSN very Important ?
It is VERY IMPORTANT to remember your SSN, as it is the only proof your identity. The law assumes that, NO ONE other than you except your Employers, Banking person, Credit card companies and other Financial related people knows that number. It is FRAUD if someone in the above list steals these number and distribute or use for something else. So, the only way to identify your IDENTITY is by SSN. Typically, people ask for LAST 4 digits of SSN on phone. You should say only last four. NEVER EVER say FULL SSN on phone to anyone or tell it to anyone. It is supposed to be maintained secretly and you should only know it. It is used to track your personal info in a lot of places, especially your financial, immigration related info like your credit history, driving history, rental history, etc. Honestly, it is part and parcel of your life in US. Almost every single detail of you is tracked by SSN. ( just an analogy, think of it India nowadays we have PAN card for everyone who work. Similar, but million times more important than PAN card )
Identity Theft with SSN
People can steal your identity if they knew your SSN and Date of Birth completely. Just imagine a simple example, someone pretends just like you and calls up a bank or other place and says all the info including your SSN and date of birth, they get along and can get anything done like wire transfer or what not ? This is just a trivial example. Think of other possibilities what they can do So, your identity is stolen in fact. That is the reason, SSN is private and should be guarded. Refer to federal government website for more details on Identity theft of SSN
What are your tips for SSN and protecting it ?
image credit : http://icenter.ucsd.edu/_images/ifso/ssn.jpg