Listing Social Security Numbers On Job Applications
Name, Surname, E-mail, Previous experience, Social Security Number… Wait. Why do I have to list my social security number on this job application?
This is the question that pops up in everybody’s mind at least once, as more and more companies are requiring a social security number when applying for a job.
We were always told never to reveal our social security number to anyone and here are our possible future employers asking us for it.
It is quite normal to be confused in this situation as it is quite uncertain whether the employers are allowed to ask for your social security number and whether you are actually obligated to provide it.
We have checked the Law and most common practices to make sure you get all needed information to feel safe if you choose to provide your social security number.
We’ll go through all scenarios now and figure out what is the best solution in this kind of situation.
If you are looking for an answer to questions such as: Is it safe to list my Social Security Number? Why do they need my social security number? Can my data be used in an illegal way?
This is the article just for you, as we answer these and other most common questions regarding social security number policy on job applications.
WHY IS THE COMPANY ASKING FOR MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER?
There are many various reasons a company asks for social security number.
We’ll go through them now and highlight and explain the most common ones.
1. Confirming Your Identity
The most common reason companies ask for Social Security Number information is to confirm the identity of the applicant.
National databases such as the E-Verify system provide companies with a quick and accurate confirmation of the identity, and the only information they need for it is your social security number.
If you were wondering why is this so crucial to your employers and could there be another way to do this, think about the consequences that may occur if the company has hired somebody with the stolen identity.
If you weren’t aware, these consequences are quite serious, which is why companies try to avoid taking the risk.
Even though the company itself suffered from fraud, it can be required to pay the fraud tax or summoned up to the court, on liability lawsuits bases.
Of course, it depends on the company whether they will ask for your social security number before your job application, only after they notice some irregularities with the documents or never.
You will find out once you start applying for the job in that company.
Even though you now understand why they need your social security number, there is still a high chance that you do not feel safe to provide it.
If that is the case, you should know that you are completely free to decline that request and keep the information about your social security number solely to yourself.
However, you should bear in mind that this might be a red flag for the possible employer and that they might start doubting whether this is your true identity or not.
If this happens, you can try offering any other documents you find comfortable sharing.
For example, your identification card, a birth certificate, passport number or anything else that proves your identity.
Some companies might agree on this, and some maybe not.
The reason for this is usually the fact the checking the social security number is the most effective way to prove somebody’s identity.
The company has to respect your decision, but you should be prepared to respect their if it’s not wanting to hire you.
2. Proving Your Residence
In the area of globalization, we are facing many immigrants in our country who are looking for a better life.
Unfortunately, not all of them have the residence or work permit here, which leads to them seeking for a way to get a job.
Often these ways are not legal.
For example, falsification of the documents and purchasing stolen identities has become a routine.
If we take into consideration all of the consequences that come with hiring someone with the stolen identity, then add up all the consequences that come with hiring an illegal immigrant, the risk that the company would have to take is quite high and not worthy for most of the companies.
Even though the company wasn’t aware of the fact that the employee had a stolen identity nor that he is an illegal immigrant, they still have huge responsibilities in this situation.
What’s even more, they could be seriously held responsible for not checking the employee’s background while applying for the job.
To be more precise, for not asking about the social security number.
The social security number (or the number that solves everything as many refer to it) not only confirms your identity but also proves your residence.
Which ensures the employer that you are a resident of our country and have a legal right to work, which gets you one step closer to the job you want.
3. Working in a Protected Industry
If you are looking for a job in special industries, such as those that require working with vulnerable populations or having access to the confidential information – for example, healthcare, education, banking or similar, you should be aware that asking for your social security number is a necessary routine check.
It’s a fact that not everybody can work in these industries and therefore a complete background check is a way of ensuring that the applicant is safe for the work environment.
It shouldn’t surprise you if they ask you for a social security number and even do some other checks.
Of course, there is an exception to every rule, meaning that even if you find yourself applying for a job in some of these industries, some company may not ask for your social security number.
If this happens, it means that the company has other ways of checking your background, so you can expect questions regarding your name, address and other useful information.
If you are still wondering why would anyone ask for social security number if it is possible to check a person without it, you should bear in mind the social security number is still the most reliable way of checking anybody, and until the new one appears, it will be the most used one.
In the end, it is up to the company to choose whether they will ask for it or not.
Another benefit of asking for it for the companies lays in the fact that is the easiest way for them to check your credit or criminal record if you have it.
A good thing you could always do is talk with your employer and try to understand why do they need this information.
It’s usually that the companies hire other companies for screening the candidates.
If you find the partner company trustworthy, there is a high chance that your social security number or any other information you provide won’t be misused.
4. Confirming Your Reliability
Depending on the job you are applying to, some positions might require employees who are reliable in many aspects.
For example, somebody who does not change the job often has their own insurance or is capable of handling the money in the proper way.
For all these aspects there is one simple way to check the applicant’s reliability and that is the social security number.
Certain companies do this check for all the positions in the company, no matter how low or high they are in the hierarchy.
The main goal is to reduce risk and the possible consequences that could reflect on the entire company.
Bear in mind that some companies who do business with the public will probably take into consideration their security too, and in that manner persuade with the request for the social security number.
It is important to mention again that even in this kind of situation, you are still allowed to decline the request and keep your social security number private.
Just remember once again, that it might lead to the company not considering your application.
IS IT LEGAL FOR A COMPANY TO ASK FOR THE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes, in most of the states.
The most disturbing fact is that all of the candidates are being asked for the social security number, whether they will proceed with the selection process or not.
Many states have prohibited private companies from asking the social security number and collecting any other information that is not relevant for the position.
This has been shown as the bade case practice, as many employees are quite unsatisfied with this procedure, as well as many candidates give up on applying due to the fact that they do not feel comfortable to provide the information regarding the social security number.
Legalities advise not providing this information on the job application.
Even though you do not provide the information while applying, bear in mind that many job applications require you to sign the agreement on being checked completely.
This allows the company to check your background, references, criminal record and all of the information that you have already provided.
It might eventually lead to them asking for your social security number if they realize there is a need for it.
If you decide not to provide it while applying, it might be necessary to go to the company’s office and fill it in there, if it happens that the company wants to hire you.
If that happens, you should really consider whether it’s worth losing this opportunity to keeping the information for yourself, when it’s most likely that you will be asked for the same information in any other place.
Another advice is to not fill the social security number online. It is not recommended to even send it through the post.
As mentioned above, the best option is to provide it in person, ensuring that the company gets it and nobody else.
If your information got misused, the law is on your side and you will have the right to fail a complaint against the company.
The companies are also aware of this, which actually led to a couple of them not asking for this information, considering the risk of the information getting hacked or leaked higher than hiring someone with the stolen identity.
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS IF I DON’T WANT TO PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION?
The fact that the employer is asking for your social security number does not mean that you have to provide it.
You are entitled to your privacy and feeling of safety.
Only the government and national security jobs require you to provide the social security number as we have explained previously and that is the only exception.
The same way that the employers are afraid of hiring someone with the stolen identity, the candidates are afraid of their identity being stolen by providing the social security number.
So it’s quite understanding why you still hesitate to reveal it.
You may have faces the job applications that literally make the field fit the social security number required, leaving you thinking that there isn’t another option.
Gladly, there are still some other options you can choose if you do not want to fill in your social security number.
Here are the most useful ones.
1. Explain why you don’t want to provide it.
It’s simple as that. Whatever bothers you, you can write in the field an explain it to the employer. Write about your doubts and why you chose to keep it private.
If you would feel more comfortable sharing the information once you get the job, that is something you should also mention.
This is a good option, but just to repeat it once again, it might not be enough to the potential employer and they have the right to decline your application.
2. Leave it blank.
This happens often, that the job applications let you leave this field empty.
This means that you can easily skip this section or use it as it was mentioned in the item above – explaining why you don’t feel safe to provide your social security number.
Also, you can add a guarantee that you will provide it later in the selection process.
3. Provide it partially.
You can choose what you list. If you want to increase your chances of being considered for the job, you can list some of the numbers and for example, leave the last four digits as 0000.
This is a good option if you want to show that you trust the employer, but will completely reveal the information about the social security number if you are accepted.
HOW TO AVOID SCAMMERS?
It is crucial that you stay safe. Therefore, you should be aware of the potential troubles and know how to avoid scammers.
Scammers can be found mostly online asking for social security number on fake job applications or during the selection process for a job or a company that does not even exist.
Here are some tips on how to stay safe.
- If the employer asks for the money and explains it as the typical part of the application, it’s most definitely the scam.
- If you suddenly hear from a company or an employer you haven’t ever worked with or you find out that they’ve been checking your information, it is probably a scam. Try to contact the company and see who’s behind it.
- Never e-mail your social security number to anyone – it is easy to hack into somebody’s mail, not to mention that it even easier to start a fake company and collect social security numbers.
- If possible, try avoiding sharing any information besides your e-mail address or telephone number. It is the best possible way to stay safe. If an employer is asking for other information, drop by their office and provide them with everything they need to know to consider your application.
WHAT TO DO IF MY INFORMATION HAS BEEN MISUSED?
What to do when your worst fear becomes reality? Don’t worry, we have a way to help you fight with this nightmare.
If your employer has asked about the social security number and it ended with you becoming the victim of the identity theft, the first thing you need to do is to report this incident to the social security administration. Don’t waste any time fail a complaint immediately.
The next thing you could do is contact Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian and report the stolen identity; they’ll make sure to let everyone know that your identity has been stolen and prevent anyone from opening accounts under your name
Lastly, make sure you report this theft to them as they are the only ones who can protect your taxes and your government accounts from intrusion.
It should be everyone’s goal to protect their information.
However, it’s not that easy, especially when you take into consideration the other side and the reason the companies ask for it. Their main goal is to stay safe, the same as yours.
That’s the reason it is so difficult to determine whether the company really needs our information or we are being the victims of the fraud.
If you have difficulties and can not deal with them on your own, make sure you contact the screening company.
Same as the employers partner up with the screening companies to run a background check on potential candidates, you can go to any screening company and ask for their advice.
They have plenty of experience in this field and they’ll be able to tell you whether the company really need some piece of information or is misleading you.
HOW TO SUE A FAKE COMPANY THAT MISUSED MY INFORMATION?
If the worst scenario happens, here is a quick guide on what you need to do in order to sue that fake company that used your social security number.
1. Get a lawyer.
Decide whether you need a lawyer or not. It might be useful to consult with some of the lawyers so they can tell you whether you actually need one.
In cases connected to the stolen identity, it is recommended to get one, as it is quite a serious situation.
2. Identify the defendant.
If the fake company has tricked you to fill in your information, it might take you some time to discover who actually is behind this company.
It may require you hiring a detective, just so you can find the person you can actually sue.
3. Establish jurisdiction over the defendant.
Get familiar with the law, as it is different from state to state.
Realize what is the best option for you to go to the court and understand what can actually be done and how will the process look like.
4. Gather evidence.
Find all the e-mails that you’ve sent and received from this company and any other communication you had.
Find the fake job application if it still exists online, as well as the proof that your identity has been stolen.
5. Sue in small claims court.
As mention previously, the law is different in different states and it is quite difficult to understand everything.
Therefore, suing them in a small claims court is the best option, as it is the easiest for people who are not previously educated in law.
Whether you’re looking for a new job or your boss has suddenly requested you to fill in your social security number, it is quite understanding to be scared.
With many bad examples around us, it is natural to feel a tendency to keep our most important information private.
Therefore, you should always check all of the options you have and make sure that the company that requires information from you is reliable.
Many companies are having the same fear as you and therefore seek to check each and every applicant, in order to feel safe.
That is something you should have in mind, as it will probably have an impact on whether the company chooses you or not.
Remember, they are checking you, but you also have the same right to check them!
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