I had a knee replacement in April of 2014. I go into the hospital and on my pre-op paperwork, they ask the regular questions: name, address, social – wait a minute? Why do they need my social security number?

A few years ago, I was registering my child for high school. They asked for his social security number. Again – wait a minute? Why do they need it?

With all the security breach’s going on – and yes, they’re still happening, and now with a new healthcare directive from the Federal government, it is important to know who can and cannot require your social security number. For example, hackers and thieves had improperly accessed more than 600,000,000 consumer files since 2004.

Just remember: If somebody else has your social security number, it is probably stored on a computer somewhere. If someone else stores it, hackers will find a way to access it.

Your identity is your biggest asset. Protect it. Do not give it out to anybody that does not need it and has a legal right to have it.

The Social Security Act does not address the issue of private industry and the use of the social security number. However, it does discuss where you are required to provide it.

According to the Social Security Administration, these are where they are required:

  • Internal Revenue Service for tax returns and federal loans
  • Employers for wage and tax reporting purposes
  • Employers enrolled in E-Verify
  • States for the school lunch program
  • Banks for monetary transactions
  • Veterans Administration as a hospital admission number
  • Department of Labor for workers’ compensation
  • Department of Education for Student Loans
  • States to administer any tax, general public assistance, motor vehicle or driver’s license law within its jurisdiction
  • States for child support enforcement
  • States for commercial drivers’ licenses
  • States for Food Stamps
  • States for Medicaid
  • States for Unemployment Compensation
  • States for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
  • S. Treasury for U.S. Savings Bonds

If a business or any other enterprise asks you for your Social Security Number, you can refuse to give it. Nevertheless, that could mean doing without the purchase or service for which your number was requested.

For example, utility companies and other services ask for a Social Security Number, but do not need it; they can do a credit check or identify the person in their records by alternative means.

Again, your identity is your biggest asset. It is up to you as a business owner to protect it. When you are informed and actively ask questions as to why they need your social security number, you will be in a better position to protect it.